I must admit, the point of view that I express comes from a very Westernized person. I can only consider the world from inside a society that values individuality and competition. The goal isn’t to keep up with the Joneses.. oh no. We strive to own nicer cars, more prim yards, and have nicer haircuts than our peers; rather than being happy intrinsically with our material possessions, we compare what we have and only feel good when we believe we have the upper hand. Disgustingly, through the… beauty… of globalization, this Americanized value has been exported around the globe. It has created a cutthroat business market that thrives on greed. We lose symbiotic relationships that could better both sides in favor of more stringent business moves that put both parties on edge. It is ugly. But it is the system we have.
Despite my biased view of the inner workings of the current business world, it is important to understand that it is truly run on greed. Outlandish CEO bonuses and salaries reveal this to us. The horrible hours worked by low-level employees at hedge funds in hopes of rising through the company to make their own ludicrous salary shows this as well. With this knowledge, however, we can be quite powerful in approaching government and trying to get what we want out of it. Now, more than ever, it is crucial to phrase desires in a manner that appeals to the greed driven market.
Thomas Friedman, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and the author of multiple bestselling books, effectively describes the possibility of harnessing this greed for good in Hot, Flat, and Crowded. As he lays out a plan to save the world from global warming, Friedman proposes a Green Revolution that appeals to the wallets of big business. Beautifully, he also cites some examples in Indonesia where villages have sparked change and stopped deforestation through local uprising. The spark of these local revolutions? A new-found understanding of what the forests meant for them in terms of providing food and resources. Environmental wonder was preserved by reminding the people living closest to it of the bounty it provided. Batang Gadis, the village in Indonesia, fights illegal logging, receives benefit from having the forest, and maintains the flora and fauna that are natural to the area. The key to this balanced ecosystem was education.
The value of schooling is quite obvious at times. If a child is in school, they are not participating in destructive activities during school hours. And, the knowledge that they get points them towards careers and jobs rather than focusing on the other aspects of their environments. But this is a shortsighted view of the importance of education. From the example above, knowledge of why something is valuable to a person, appealing to each persons sense of greed, can cause changes that are beneficial to the whole world. Atrocious as it may be, it may prove fruitful to teach based on what it might bring financially to a person. Both within the classroom and in more worldly learning, we could see great impacts as people are encouraged to strive for money even more rather than merely following their own internal drives.