What would you do if your best friend abruptly decided that they were no longer going to be your best friend? “It’s not personal,” they might say. “Thanks for the friendship, but we’re through. Goodbye.”
Or let’s say that you helped your best friend to build a guesthouse, with the understanding that you would stay there four times a year. But once it was built, your friend said, “I appreciate all your hard work, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to let you stay here four times a year. I’ll need to reduce that to once a year, or maybe not at all.”
Or perhaps your parents or in-laws come to you and say, “We have calculated what you owe us for raising you, and we don’t feel that you are repaying us enough. Here’s your bill. Failure to make payments will result in us putting a lien against your home.”
Chances are, if anyone we gave a darn about treated us this way, we’d be upset, and rightly so. But corporations can and do behave in worse ways, and yet we appear to believe in a different code of conduct for them than we do for ordinary people. This is out of integrity.
“It’s just business,” we are told, with the message being that a corporation’s bottom line is the highest consideration. It is more important than your feelings, your livelihood, your labor, your loyalty, the community, the nation, the environment, and the highest good of the planet and the human race in general. Yes, we have reached the point in our existence where the profits of a few outweigh the needs and health of the entire world. No wonder we are in crisis.
It is not surprising that corporate interests are concerned only about themselves. This is the height of the hubris of the ego, after all. What is surprising is that the men and women chosen to govern and protect us do not do so, regardless of party affiliation. Corporate interests have completely overtaken our governments, and we now have government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations. Indeed, the most powerful systems on Earth right now are not governments—they are the multinational corporations who effectively run and benefit from our governments.
It would be easy to assume the role of victim in the face of this corporate juggernaut and give up hope. But all governments rule only by the consent of their people. By accepting that such outrageous behavior is not only okay, but a natural by-product of capitalism, which we are told is the pinnacle of all economic systems, then we are complicit in the destructive behavior that has imperiled our race.
So, what can we do?
First, we must act with integrity in our personal lives. If we owe money or services, we give them. We treat others honestly, as we want to be treated. We act with compassion and consideration for others. We accept that the highest good is more important than a temporary personal good that hurts others. We look for the win-win in all situations—for us, for other people, and for the planet.
We must also expect all businesses to behave according to this standard of conduct. If they do not, then do not reward them with your patronage. Instead of “starving the beast” of government, let us starve the beastly corporations who do not care about the health and well-being of others. Don’t buy their products or services. Instead, buy from local, ethical small businesses whenever possible.
It is true that corporate tentacles are far-reaching. It is true that they have gone to great lengths to deprive us of real choices: in products, food, energy, and jobs. For those looking for their “lost freedom,” that is where it has gone. Except, however, we do have choices. We always have choices. New choices may require you to do things differently. You may have to think outside the box and be creative. There is always another path that will meet your need or fulfill your goal. You are not powerless, unless you decide that you are.
“The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”
The Great Law of the Iroquois was that before making any important decision, the tribe had to think of how the decision would affect the next seven generations of Iroquois. “In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation… even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine.” By contrast, the Corporate Creed states that if you can make a quick buck for yourself, then you should, regardless of the consequences to anyone else or the planet. Which society would you rather live in?
The economy of “short-term gain for a few at the expense of many” must die. It is simply unsustainable. We can and we will change, but it requires as many of us as possible to achieve it. We don’t need 100% of the population to make the change. We just need enough—less than half—and that will cause everything to change because it will be enough to cause the consciousness of the whole to shift. We are in this process now, and we are seeing the changes now, but we need new visions and new ideas to help us get there.
The Iroquois did not kick the can down the road for their children. Let us work together to find real solutions now and withdraw our support for those who do not act with integrity. Together we truly can change the world.