“Reason? Hell, there is no reason. It’s just company policy.”
My first job in advertising in 1952 was with the then largest advertising agency in London, The London Press Exchange. My early duties included sitting in on client meetings. One client was the son of an extremely rich and successful producer of chewing gum. Father had made so much money that he owned a substantial part of Chicago. He promoted his son to Marketing Director, prematurely as it transpired. We’ll call the young man ‘Mr W’ to preserve his anonymity. Participating in a meeting with Mr W I couldn’t help noticing both the scale and depth of his stupidity and the expanse of his pomposity. Of even shorter temper then than today, I could contain myself no longer at one especially daft decision he made.
I asked him, politely, the reason for his pronouncement. It was, after all, a big account. He eyed me coldly for about thirty seconds in that way that the very rich reserve for the very poor when discussing starvation. His answer was the title of today’s Daily Paradox.
My recent Daily Paradox ‘Reason exits right’ was, sadly, no laughing matter. It produced a wide response from many parts of the world. I have not before seen such written pain – in some cases, bordering on despair. The agony is not only about the threatening situations in Gaza and Kyiv. It is about a world society that can communicate in a nanosecond but has failed to understand the implications of such a facility. It is about technological achievement that can fast replace humanity but a complete absence of conceiving what will better replace it. It is about a logical attitude to mystic belief that cannot comprehend the need for mysticism.
For me it is the non-religious acceptance of the need for care and prayer.
We make much of the need for better management, not without reason. We care less about the need for better self-management. Where communicating with a colleague, a subordinate or a boss requires a skill unrelated to our natural social instincts, communicating with ourselves is delegated to opportunities for self-indulgence way beyond the needs of the hedonistic. Where careful training, monitoring, policing of behaviours that affect others are accepted as a cost of doing business such internal checks and balances are ignored when preparing someone to manage themselves for a lifetime of competition and survival.
No education system in the world is equipping the young to participate intelligently in the political life that will order their happiness and comfort. It has even been suggested to me that there are governments that actively discourage – or even forbid – participation in how the place is run. I find that difficult to believe since creatures of even the most rudimentary intellect living together manage to work out an existence that sees to the welfare of the majority. The leader of the herd doesn’t have to be of one gender but s/he has to be of sound mind.
So what must we do, now quickly, to bring us back from the brink of unreasonableness?
We must agree where we want to go. Not individually, not regionally, not nationally but as a species. To do this we must redevelop a sense of responsibility for our heirs and assigns. It is not competitive jousting that we need to learn but cooperative caring. Our personal objectives for a good life remain valid only when they are second to our objectives that everyone else has one too. If that sounds communist it is certainly the principles of communism. The practice is so far from the ideal that it discredits a sound idea.
If it sounds anti-capitalist it certainly doubts the efficacy of unbridled capitalism. Beyond a certain point capitalism becomes rapacious – the opposite of cooperative caring.
If it sounds moderate, it is. But moderation is a hard target for it is neither the bulls eye nor off the board. It is moderate.
If everyone became moderate tomorrow we would have a happy world.
What is your solution to the world’s parlous situation? We’d love to hear it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
18 October 2023