January 20, 2011

A World Where Everyone Wins

"Victory breeds hatred. He who has given up both victory and defeat, 
he is contented and happy." - Dhammapada

One reason I have spent most of my life not buying much is that the act of acquiring stuff usually forces one into the Ponzi scheme that is our economy. I have never felt comfortable buying and selling because I can not bring myself to adopt the killer instinct required to play the game. I would rather live without things than have to wonder if I won or lost every time money changed hands. Either way I feel uneasy afterward, and kind of tainted by the interaction.

Most people would agree that win/win situations are best. This is because cooperation is built into our genetic material. Cooperation, historically, is what has brought humanity to the modern age. It is that urge that we all have when we see someone in need. It is why we rush into burning buildings, and explains how moms can lift the family mini van off their child trapped underneath. It is why we come together in an infinite number of mutually positive exchanges every day. It is the best of what we have to offer. 

Hyper-capitalism is an adversarial business that demands winners, and losers, and that is what it manufactures the most efficiently. This competitive system is being artificially imposed upon convivial creatures in a bad experiment that is destined to never produce the promised results of plenty for everyone. Understandably, we are not responding well to this dog-eat-dog exploitative existence, and neither is the planet. We have too few winners, and too many losers. 

In 2005, the wealthiest 20% of the world accounted for 76.6% of total private consumption. The poorest fifth just 1.5%. This is what the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat looks like under global capitalism. Those of us in the wealthiest 20% had best remember that "victory breeds hatred".

Bertrand Russell realized that we had not been honoring our innate drive to help each other, and that it had landed us in trouble. His conclusion? He said, "The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation". Cooperation is our natural state, and it is the only thing that can bring equality to all.

I hope to help attain a more equitable world by limiting my personal consumption. Lowering consumption requires a sense of cooperation because it is about living with less so that others may have more. It is about about everybody having 'enough'.

Together, we can create a world beyond victory and defeat. A world where everyone wins. That is where contentedness and happiness will be found.


  1. When I read this I instantly thought of two wonderful books by Tor Norretranders, "The generous man" and "The user illusion: Cutting consciousness down to size". The first one is much about what you have written here and the second part of the second one is one of the best texts I have ever read and I read a lot.


    1. Eva,

      Linda and I also read a lot. Thank you for these references - we will be checking our public library for Norretranders' books.


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