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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Monday 25 June 2012

Atlas Never Wavered

Whenever I hear someone decry the idea of "The Public Good" as some sort of totalitarian subterfuge, I ask them why giving back and self-moderation somehow implies a loss of freedom.  The answer, invariably, is that they don't want anyone telling them what they can and can't do - which, of course, kinda misses the "self" part, but I digress.

Let's play along for a minute.  What happens when everyone has complete independence to do whatever they want to?  They come into conflict.  Our costly and inadequate justice system is all about people trying to protect their own interests, with a third party arbitrating (not a very independent solution, but maybe that's just me).    Or, by looking after their own immediate interests, the group - because that's what society is - creates tragedy-of-the-commons scenarios ranging from pushing-matches to get on and off subway trains to the denuding of natural resources without consideration for tomorrow's needs.

How do you avoid zero-sum conflict or unsustainable practices?  It's simple - by thinking ahead.  When you plan - when you're strategic - you invariably include other people's interests into your calculus.  Everyone knows Sun-tzu's maxim about knowing yourself and knowing your enemy

Another one of Sun-tzu's key lessons is about discipline, or self-control.  There's also the one about creating resource-efficient, win-win scenarios where possible to avoid the loss that invariably occurs through conflict.

In other words, be mindful of the consequences of your actions.  Taken from a slightly different angle - do unto others what you would have them to unto you.

True independence comes not from hiding from the reality that we're all in this together, but internalizing that concept and acting from a place of consciousness.

In other words, altruism is nothing more than selfishness that plans ahead.

And true leadership isn't about control, but empowerment.

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