Why Self-Interest Often Prevails

Intentions that are inclusive, holistic, and concerned about the well-being of our communities can have a hard time producing a clearly focused message, especially in the arenas of social reform and politics.

When we are concerned with improving our own situation we defend our viewpoint with impassioned conviction. We focus well when we perceive a threat to our possessions or an opportunity for personal advancement: once the mechanisms of desire and fear are activated, issues of truth and factual accuracy may cease to trouble us all that much.

A vision for improving conditions for the planet and its inhabitants is never as clear as when we are pursuing our own needs and wants. Whereas, when tracking an object we wish to capture (like a coyote sniffing the air for a nearby rabbit), it seems instinctual to remain focused. (And for con-men, thieves, and anyone cashing in on their privileged position, it appears to be a simple matter to remain focused on a desired outcome.)

But for anyone who is concerned with the environment, on which everyone’s sustenance depends, a wider perspective is required (than when we are acquiring the objects we want).

As in the story of “The Little Red Hen”, it is easier to enjoy a slice of warm fresh-baked bread slathered with butter than to labor in a wheat field, or clock in at the flour mill or dairy for a long day (let alone to protect the environment so that grass for the cows and wheat for the miller can continue to grow).

Concerns for the many do not lend themselves to the distortions and manipulations that have become the hidden presence in the public sphere.
In order to understand what is of greatest value in a given situation, we may be better off listening (than judging), questioning (than repeating sound-bites that have invaded our awareness), and conducting our own explorations of the unrealized potential that dwells within us (than pilfering the mediums of exchange that contribute nothing to the actual wealth of our communities).

It may be challenging to contribute something of value to the world, but the community we will join is worth far more than an extra zero in our bank balance.

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