"Free Market" Capitalist Economic System, Corruption, Fame, Lao-tzu, Success and Failure, Tao Te Ching (The Book of the Way)
Feeding America – Map the Meal Gap – Food Insecurity in Your County
[Click on link below to view Interactive Map]
Source: Feeding America
Success or failure: which is more destructive? This is a question raised by Lao-tzu in the Tao Te Ching, simply translated as The Book of the Way. For a society that views success as a goal in life, such a question seems ridiculous. Coming from the Ancient Chinese philosopher, it’s a question that merits consideration.
Like me, I’m sure you’ve had your share of failure along this journey of life. The second novel I’m currently working on is inspired by a period along the way when I messed up big time. It changed the direction of my life, eventually bringing me to this place and moment in time.
Through our failures, we learn what works and what doesn’t. We become more discerning in our relationships. We grow. We become stronger as individuals. Sure, we can allow our failures to destroy us by taking refuge in alcohol, drugs, gambling, or some other self-destructive behavior.
In other words, our failures lead us to success. Seen in this way, failure and success are two sides of the same coin. We can’t have one without the other.
We all want success of some sort: the American Dream, financial security, status, fame. For writers, having a novel on the New York bestseller list would be a definite indication of success. The Pulitzer Prize would be the ultimate success! Some of us set our sights on being the next President of the United States.
Success is the pinnacle of a life well lived, of obstacles overcome, of rivals defeated. The scars, losses, and sacrifices along the way are all part of the game. But the price of success can lead to self-destruction.
Success with fame kills. I think of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Robin Williams. I’m sure you can think of many other celebrities whose lives were destroyed by fame.
Success with power corrupts. Corruption among the power elite on Wall Street, CEOs of transnational corporations, politicians, and world leaders has become endemic across our planet.
Humankind’s greatest success story is the progress we have made through industrialization and technological advancements. We have paid a steep price for the quality of life that our successful “free market” capitalist economies afford us. While enriching the lives of a few, our way of doing business has impoverished billions of people worldwide. In the United States, the world’s most successful economy, Feeding America provided 46.5 million hungry Americans with meals in 2014 (see captioned Map of Meal Gap).
Our exploitation of Earth’s natural resources is destroying the ecosystems on which we depend for our survival. Industries that maintain our comfortable lifestyles have disrupted the complex balance of our global climatic system.
The success of our global “free market” capitalist system of continual economic growth has been the most destructive force on our planet, for all living species, including our own.
If we are to change course, we will have to rethink the meaning of success in our individual lives.