Whether conquering the unexplored, beating the competition, subduing nature, overpowering bad guys, conquering disease, converting “backward” peoples, having a war on drugs or winning at football, Western man makes war on everything. Competition is the Western way. The military modality of powerful leaders marshaling their forces into campaigns with battle plans and strategies, foot soldiers and heroes, and most importantly victories and defeats, winners and losers, is what has brought the West its self-appointed glory. We do not understand harmony. We understand winning. Second place is oblivion, nice guys finish last. Who was the second man to land on the moon? Who was the second man to fly solo across the Atlantic?

Winning belongs to the world of warriors and unfortunately one of the things that gets lost to warriors is morality. Rape and pillage are the domain of the conqueror. Caveat emptor, “Let the buyer beware” was the dominant philosophy in business for over a century. Al Davis, the thorny professional football owner coined the phrase, “Win baby win.” Unspoken in that phrase is, “Win at any cost.” During that age Davis’ Raiders were the most penalized team in the sport, with a reputation for playing dirty. Cheating has become a part of winning in sport and business. It’s always been the rule in politics. One coach pays his players a bounty if they disable another team’s players. 

One of the most successful football coaches said “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” It is not a foul until you get called for it. Rules only count if you get caught breaking them, and if you have good lawyers you can probably get off anyway. That was the lesson of the O.J. Simpson debacle. What is important is dominating the opposition. Intimidation is the art of the successful. Why waste time and energy playing honorably when you can win through intimidation?

Western society is built on an idea of power which is false. Power over what? You can control another person or a people for a time, but that control sets in motion forces within the other and yourself that will insure your downfall. Hitler is gone, Communism has collapsed and colonial hegemony is a thing of the past. Consider the forces that drove the French, American and Russian revolutions, the fall of the Shah of Iran, the end of Apartheid, the collapse of of South Viet Nam, the decline of IBM, the Nixon White House, American auto makers, Prohibition, the nuclear power industry, Sadam Hussein . . .

Mahayana Buddhists believe that there are two basic forces in man, siddhi and shakti. The siddhis are the forces we would call power, strength, aggression. The shaktis are the more flowing energies of compassion and understanding. To the Buddhists, balancing both energies is essential for health of people or a society. To allow one to dominate is to create toxicity and invite disease. Ram Dass comments:

Because getting the powers, the yogic powers, the siddhis, without the love, without the flow, without the compassion, makes you just another power tripper. Our society is full of people who have siddhis, who have powers, they have power of the intellect and they have power of the mind to control others. But the compassion isn’t there. The flow isn’t there. On the other hand, people who have flow, lots of loving flow, but no power, no shakti, no control, no discipline, no one-pointedness, tend to get very mushy. They’re like soft earth, there’s nothing firm in them, and that lack of firmness allows them only to go so far, they keep falling down. There’s no backbone in the process.

We have no respect for nature and little respect for each other. New Jersey indicts forty seven companies . . . for illegally dumping toxic wastes into public landfills. Forty Seven! The EPA has identified more than 13,000 toxic sites around the country. Most of them a legacy to “Better living through chemistry.” Has the chemical industry come forward and said, “Let us be responsible for cleaning up our part of the mess?” Of course not, their subsidiaries will go bankrupt, and the others will get away with what they can and let their lawyers haggle to limit their losses. It is not a foul until you get called for it. Ninety nine percent of the population have one or more toxic chemicals stored in fatty tissue. Ninety five percent of all mothers’ milk is toxic from pesticides. More than one in three of us will get cancer and ninety eight percent of all cancers are caused by toxic chemicals.

Over the years business and industry have thrown their considerable weight against virtually every piece of legislation that has advanced social rights or limited business collusion. They have consistently opposed: workman’s compensation, minimum wage, unemployment insurance, stock manipulation, collective bargaining, air pollution, the right to strike, environmental regulation, insider trading, water pollution, OSHA, antitrust, mining regulation, truth in packaging and product labeling, and on, and on.

Pension funds, built up over a lifetime of work have been ripped off by takeover sharks, financially stranding thousands of workers and their families, near the ends of their careers. And not one business leader raises a voice of complaint or protest. Where has the National Association of Manufacturers or The National Chamber of Commerce been? Don’t expect anything from Wall Street, they make money on these deals.

Consider one simple example from the past: several large U.S. corporations promoted cigarette products, knowingly adding a huge $50 billion annual cancer expense to the already stretched public health budget. Interestingly in the executive clique the sanctions against breaking ranks are so tight that not a single major corporate leader would jeopardize his career by speaking out against the activities of the brotherhood. “The cigarette companies are doing nothing illegal.” Forget morality, the law is all that matters, and they’ve’ got good lawyers and lobbyists. It is not a foul until you get called for it.

copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2016

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