Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests there is inherent in humanity a deep negative process that is driven into full bloom by excessive frustration and largely responsible for our suffering. At its base, the core causes of corruption (awkwardly named) are: selfishness, cynicism, mistrust, and exploitation. During different points in human history the core causes are “weaponized” and more vividly exposed by advances in communications technology and media coverage. The process produces distorted, ideological illusions that create an environment in which all is spin, and true facts are devalued and dispensable. It is a zero-sum nightmare emphasizing notions like, “whoever has the most money will win,” and births a worldview based in fear, greed and a lust for power. “I dominate you to compensate for my own fear and inferiority,” is the unspoken and unacknowledged dynamic that has many versions, but is essentially always the same—from the corporate board rooms to the street gangs! As the Corona Virus/COVID-19 pandemic all too painfully demonstrates, our hardest hit communities lack needed systemic, structural support and access to resources—all tragic results of the core corruption cycle run amok.
Conversely, caring informed by insight—also inherent in humanity—is the basis for humane and ethical living. However, sadly, our current system—largely undergirded by private ambition and a pure capitalistic profit motive—can hardly encourage sustained insight and caring, and therefore left to its own devices, cannot help but stimulate the core corruption cycle. One only needs to look at Enron, the 2008 Wall Street and Banking industries, Bernie Madoff, Facebook, Google Amazon and now Corona Virus/COVID-19 for undeniable examples of blatant political and social indifference. We need to find a way to combine insightful caring about the public good with the power of economic profit and productivity.
Illustration By Ward Smith, 2019
It is a double-edged sword to have the core causes of corruption so exposed, as it reveals an ugly truth about the underside of human nature. But it also opens up an opportunity for increased caring and positive change. I believe this work can help us with our greatest challenges in this, our “brave new world”: namely, to act with integrity and decency, reject the ancient dictates of the core corruption cycle and break free from its grip. Our fragile existence on planet earth may depend on it.
by David Fireman