Monday, April 16, 2012

Is that all there is?

Last week the Reserve Bank of Australia decided that there would be no change in the official interest rates but on Friday one of Australia's "Big Four", very profitable commercial banks decided that it would raise its interest rates anyway - they would hate to see any reduction in their "bottom line" because that could impact not only their international credit rating but, dare one say it, also possibly the remuneration of its senior executives. I suspect other banks will raise their rates this week!

Also during last week there were reports of a rise in the number of bankruptcies in parts of Sydney as well as reports of an increase in the number of mortgage holders who have negative equity in their homes - and many of these are in the more prestigious areas.

The fact is that, in Australia, the gulf between the rich and the poor is getting wider. We are developing at least two classes in society and, as attested by a wide range of social service organisations, many people are experiencing frustration, anger, and helplessness as they try to even survive in what is often an uncaring and vicious economic environment.

Back in 1969, Peggy Lee asked the question "Is That All There Is?" in a song which questioned what we call "success" and whether there was more to life than just the here and now. Recently we celebrated Easter - a time on the Christian calendar that asks much the same question.

We seem to be inexorably caught up in the myth that success is all about power, what you have and your place on the social status ladder. We perpetuate the myth that we live in an economy rather than a society. And we wonder why illegal activity seems rampant; why gambling, substance abuse (including alcohol and nicotine), relationship breakdown and all the other indicators of problems in society show no sign of reducing. We wonder why helplessness so often drifts to hopelessness, to depression, to despair and worse.

Many years ago, a concentration camp survivor, Victor Frankl, explained the way in which he and others in concentration camps dealt with the question of what life was really all about. Was life just a brief spasm with no ultimate purpose? Was life really worth living? Victor Frankl, having worked through these issues while an inmate of a concentration camp, concluded that the meaning of life is found in every moment of living. He concluded that life never ceases to have meaning, even in suffering and death.

As I work with individuals and organisations to help them unlock their potential I find that one critical thing is simply showing that I care - I care about what happens to each person and I care about what happens to each organisation. I show that I care by the questions I ask and by the way in which I listen. I can't solve their problems - either personal or organisational - but by moving things away from "simply an economy" to a "sense of society" it becomes possible for resolutions to be found and for a new future to emerge.

People and organisations in Australia today are hurting. Some of the hurt is self-inflicted because of past choices, other of the hurt is inflicted by uncaring philosophies, systems and myths. Where there is hurt there is also a need for care. There is meaning in life.

How do you show others that you care? Do you continue caring even when what you offer appears to be rejected?

You can make your comments below. I'd love to read them.

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