I saw a book tonight. The title was something darn close to “Live Green and be a millionaire”
The subtitle indicated that really, doing the right thing is a win-win proposition. Apparently, Somehow, being environmentally conscious actually creates wealth. Who knew?
My sarcastic asides not withstanding, something clicked as I stood there, judging that particular book by its cover. The thing that occured to me is this:
We love win-wins. We love it when things work out in such a way that it’s best for everybody. How many times have we heard variations on the following themes: What’s good for America is good for the world… What’s good for business is good for the environment… Everyone benefits from this arrangement.
The people who oppose these plans that benefits everybody: are they stupid or massochistic? Clearly they must be one or the other, to oppose their own best interests.
I don’t want to overstate my case. Sometimes their are win-wins. Sometimes there are options which really are the best for everybody.
But the vast majority of situations are win-lose propositions. There will be people that benefit and people that are hurt by most decisions. We try to deny this. It’s hard to choose between being a millionaire OR being enviromentally conscious. It’s hard choosing between the good for America and the good for the world. It’s hard choosing between the best interests of the environment or big business.
Whenever a decision is made, there’s probably some sort of consolation prize for the loser. There is a silver lining to the cloud. I don’t have a problem with people expressing that. I do have a problem with people misrepresenting it, though, and claiming that the home version of the game is just as good as the million dollar jackpot. In addition to the blatant dishonesty inherent in turning everything into a win-win, this system turns us into spoiled brats. We live in a world that feeds us the delusion that we can have our cake and eat it, too.
There is no way around a simple reality: If we eat our cake, then there are only a few options open to us. A) Eat somebody else’s cake. B) Pretend we’re still eating a cake. C) Actually be mature enough to realize that we don’t have any more cake.
In different times and places, those who have the power looked the weak in the eye and called it like they saw it. They said “I win, you lose. I will take what I want because I have the power.”
Sometimes, the power shifted. Sometimes, the disenfranchised became the franchise. They put on little red berets and took power… and then, they said that same thing they’d heard so often “I win, you lose. I will take what I want because now I have the power.”
There are some things which have not changed. There are still people with power who are taking what they want. But there are some things that have changed. These people have PR firms working for them now. They look us in the eye and they say “I win, you win. We can both have what we want.” The idea is not to give the other group a share. It’s simply to make them think they have a share.
This is why Jeus is such a radical counter-cultural force. This is why people think they need to repackage him. He did more than speak the truth. He was the truth. He did more than say that there are winners and losers in the game of life. He identified with the “losers”.
He said that we should step out of the whole power play. He did not just take the next step in this never ending dance. He changed the whole song. He challenged us to do more than grab after power or accept being dominated. He challenged us to a third way, a bigger way by being smaller, a way into life by going through death. It’s not always clear and easy, just how to do this. It is a narrow door, a hard way, but ultimately the only journey worth the effort.