This is an exciting week for me on an artistic front as I’ve just released an extended version of my debut single, Wake Up The World. This version is actually how the piece was originally conceived and created before it was cut down to a more concise edit for various reasons, including the production of the song’s animated music video.

One of the reinstated sections in the extended version of Wake Up The World begins with the lines “we need to fight greed, we need to fight fear, we need to fight anything that causes division.” For me, taming this three-headed monster is one of the greatest challenges of our time. The trouble is, these are not just external adversaries to be confronted and overcome - elements of greed, fear and division exist in all of us in varied and complex ways.
“taming this three-headed monster is one of the greatest challenges of our time”
In my previous article on “me first” culture, I examined the dominant ethos of our globally-interconnected world. Individualism is now deeply ingrained in the cultures of most humans on this planet, going back many, many generations, and the fuel for that individualism is greed. This may manifest itself in obvious and overt ways, such as the desire for more money, more possessions or a better perceived lifestyle. But it’s also present in more fundamental aspects of how we live our lives - our values, behaviours, mindsets - we’re all conditioned from an early age to navigate our way through education, career and life, always competing to “be the best,” if necessary at the expense of everybody else. Education has become a horribly narrow process of jumping through rigorously-controlled hoops and amassing a portfolio of personal skills rather than the creation and nurturing of rounded human beings. So when we emerge into the adult world, most of us are not enlightened, rounded individuals (despite being highly individualistic) and we duly join the rat race in greedy pursuit of what we perceive as the ideal life, as brilliantly illustrated by Steve Cutts in his short animated film Happiness.

The natural partner to greed is fear - fear that we might lose what we have, fear that our lives may not live up to our expectations, fear that others will trample all over us in pursuit of their own interests. And out of this fear, division is born. Once we lock ourselves into a narrow worldview of personal advancement and self-fulfillment at all costs, then other people’s lives become objects of comparison and we regard them with mistrust, disdain or envy. Competition between rival tribes is rife throughout every modern developed society. We can see it in everything from school league tables and the fierce partisanship of professional sport, right up to the philosophies and behaviours of entire nation states. And it’s at the national level that this division is bringing the planet to the verge of ecological collapse. Rob Wijnberg, founding editor of The Correspondent, has described the nation state as “the blinders that shield our gaze, keeping us from seeing the connections between the problems in the world and our own actions. This 19th century construct, once set up as a model of solidarity that transcends regions and provinces, has become a limiting factor on the level of global solidarity that the 21st century demands.”
“the current system depends upon the fact that everybody signs up for it”
So there are compelling and urgent reasons to tame greed, fear and division but what can we do? There are powerful individuals and organisations actively striving to intensify the current global culture for their own ends and most national governments are either in league with this or powerless to resist the tide of individualism and self-interest.

However, the current system depends upon the fact that everybody signs up for it. If we all start to move away from this dominant individualistic mindset then our culture will reform from the bottom up. If we can start to reduce our feelings of greed, fear and division and begin to value what we have, embrace others and build trust and cooperation then we will move towards more rounded (and, dare I say, happier) societies. That’s not to say that we should completely suppress individualism and competition - these are natural human drivers that have helped us to achieve extraordinary things - but they need to be balanced by empathy, respect and cooperation.

The ones at the top of the current system are not superhumans that have “won the game of life.” In many cases they have had to severely constrain their personal selves in order to climb the greasy pole and are therefore, ironically, less rounded and fulfilled individuals than others who have realised that there is more to life. Their positions rely on the continuation of the system that they have conquered and if that structure begins to dissolve and transform then they will dissipate to be replaced by a new order and a new mode of governance.

So let’s not get too transfixed with ranting about the shortcomings of our leaders and get on with transforming our culture from the bottom up. And we can start by discarding some of our own unwanted greed, fear and division.


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