I recently came across an essay by Andrew Greely entitled, "America's Disease is Greed." The essay chronicles what you and I already know: that we are living in an Age of Greed. In our society, the pursuit of wealth seems to trump most other values. That is why fossil fuel sales continue during a year of such record heat that even the CEO of Exxon Mobil has admitted the reality of global warming.
You don't have to look far to find evidence that this is an Age of Greed. Our society can justify virtually anything on the basis of profitability, including war, exploitation of the workforce, endangering public health, and destroying entire ecosystems. And it's important to note that most of us are contributing to this trend through our patterns of consumption, our career choices, and perhaps most importantly, our willingness to chase the dangling carrot-on-a-stick.
One thing we can safely say about this Age of Greed is that it will be coming to an end very soon. Even if we do nothing, the gears will grind to a halt inevitably. The reason is that the machinery itself is unsustainable. Climate change means crop failures and food shortages. Forestry, fishery, and other industries dependent on natural resources will vanish overnight as those resources become scarce. Financial markets built on elaborate forms of gambling are destined to collapse.
When the Age of Greed screeches to a halt, what will take its place? The answer to this question is entirely up to us. Now is the time to envision and put in place new social and economic models that are based on something more fulfilling and sustainable than greed, such as resourcefulness and cooperation. Whereas greed is insatiable, the spirit of selfless service is infinitely satisfying. Perhaps the next era in human history will be an Age of Loving Kindness, as predicted in Buddhist teachings. Instead of dollars and cents, the currency of the new age might just be love and joy.
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