The natural order of things is that there exists within this vast universe, people, i.e., you and me. We are all connected by the fact that we came from and share…space.
Now, of course it’s also very true that you and I are different. We have different desires, tastes, world-views, goals, objectives, etc., etc. Humans have evolved as little bastions of will, each motivated to drive in different directions.
And that’s fine and dandy.
What’s not so fine, nor dandy, is the fiction of competitive self-interest. This fiction gives rise to irrational ideas. Ideas espoused by the likes of Ayn Rand. The idea that one can, and even should, pursue his or her “differences” at the expense of others doing the same. That it’s even a good thing for us to do so, when perhaps it really isn’t.
Now, where did this irrational idea of competitive self-interest originate? It certainly didn’t come from our natural world, or from the universe. We humans evolved from the stuff of exploding stars. But competitive self-interest didn’t. No, we sort of conjured that one up all on our own.
It seems the idea of competitive self-interest is largely the product of industrial age capitalist economic theory. I can’t really pin it on religion. The religions of the world tend to unite, rather than separate, their adherants. Granted, religions do separate those of competing religious affiliation, which is equally dangerous. But that’s a topic for a different post.
What I’m getting at is this fiction of competitive self-interest that gives rise to the notion that I should pursue my individual will, in the context of a world with scarce resources, at the expense of, or in competition with, other humans doing the same.
I’m not saying at all that we shouldn’t pursue our interests. That is, I should have goals for my life and I should pursue them. And so should you. But must I do so in ways that interfere with your pursuit? Because capitalist driven competitive self-interest suggests that “competition” is actually the key driver of human progress. That we must compete for what’s there. That the size of the pie is basically fixed and I better be about getting as big of a slice for me as I can.
Actually, that last part will be met with argument since a certain strain of capitalist economic thought says that the pie will actually be enlarged by individuals pursuing their competitive self-interest, so that everyone benefits.
That’s a nice theory, but in practice it hasn’t worked out very well…has it?
The facts of our present world, with inequality rising to unbearable proportions, belies the utility of the “trickle-down” strain of capitalist economic theory. In short, it ain’t trickling down!
So, the question becomes, is it a good fiction? Is it one worthy of adhering to?
The underlying premise of impact mindfulness is that it is not.
Impact mindfulness promotes the idea that we should prioritize impact over self-interest. That notion flies directly in the face of competitive self-interest. It argues rather for cooperative self-interest. That is, that we should pursue our human differences in a spirit of cooperation with our fellow humans…that we should help each other in that regard, not compete with each other.
The hardcore capitalist will read this and dismiss it as utopian poppycock.
However, our species evolved to be at the top of the food change via cooperation, not competitive self-interest. No, that entered into the mix only recently. And it has done some pretty serious damage to the world.
The fiction of competitive self-interest, inspired by nations pursuing competing capitalist ideals, is the primary reason for most of the horrors flashing constantly across the news screens of our televisions, computers, Ipads, and smart phones.
A world in which warring nations, and the humans of which they are comprised, are in brutal competition for more stuff conjures up a dystopian vision of reality that perhaps you wouldn’t want to live in. However, that’s exactly where we’re headed these days.
Impact mindfulness suggests that we remove the blinder of competitive self-interest. That we pursue our human differences, self-interest, or individual wills in a spirit of cooperation, rather than competition. That we must do so within the fictitious current system, while peacefully trying to change it for the better.
The “system” of competitive self-interest is breaking down before our very eyes.
The point of this post is to see it for what it is…
not really real.
Rather than a world ruled by the fiction of competitive self-interested, I long to see one dominated by competitive self-expression. That is, a world in which humans compete freely to express their differences in ways that make the world more beautiful and life more wonderful for us all.
A world in which the sheer survival aspects of self-interest, those of food, water, shelter, clothing and good health, are met for all using the vast resources this great planet grants us all.
Is this a utopian dream?
Yes, of course it is.
It’s also one that’s possible, but only when and if we shun the fiction of competitive self-interest.
My not-so-new-anymore book, The Impact Revolution, is live on Amazon. It was written to inspire empathy, to inspire connection. It was written to inspire the positive impacts that flow from empathy and connection. It was written to inspire an acceptance of the idea that we’re really all in this together.