When we interact with another person, we are always conscious of the power balance between us. We feel powerful in the presence of some people while less powerful or even powerless in the presence of others. Our actions are profoundly influenced by this power perception in every interaction. We try to impose our will on others when we feel powerful and defer to their wishes when the opposite is the case. Interestingly power is entirely an illusion that does not have an objective existence. When I perceive myself to be powerful, the other person also may entertain the same perception which tends to lead to ego clashes. When I feel powerless the other person may perceive me as powerful and defer to my wishes to my surprise.
Though power by itself is an illusion, the way we behave under its influence is very real. When we generally consider ourselves as powerless, we tend to play the victim game blaming others and resenting their intrusion in our lives. Similarly, our feelings of power lead us to attempt to ride roughshod on others’ feelings and grab everything for ourselves. Though each of these behaviours have their own painful consequences for us, when such behaviours are widespread and institutionalised in society the result is a society that enshrines and encourages inequality. The extreme levels of wealth and poverty seen today in our societies and nations are testimonies to this fact.
Growth at Any Cost
In an inequal society, wealth and resources are cornered by a privileged few while almost everyone is left to compete and fight for survival. In such a backdrop, new wealth being created at phenomenal rates through trade and manufacture flows almost entirely into the pockets of the comparatively miniscule minority. The clamour for growth at any cost is simply the clamour of this minority that is amplified by the suffering majority under the slim hope that at least a little will come their way. Of course, a little does. But a lot flows into the pockets of the minority simultaneously.
When the pandemic strikes and economic activity grinds to a halt, the poor have lost their very livelihood while the rich have lost their billions. Both are clamouring for assistance and bailouts. The governments across the world overseeing this appear to have decided that they will broadcast stimulus packages in the hope that everyone will get their fair share. However, as we know power is an illusion that can be very persistent and drive us to act irrationally under its influence. The Broadcast stimulus can be expected to flow through the entire population but finally ends up with the billionaires just as widespread rain on land ultimately drains into the sea.
The Just Solution
But is there an alternative? Perhaps there is! The basic idea is to use the stimulus exclusively to support livelihoods of the billions of poor while allowing the billions lost by the rich to be swallowed by the black hole of recession. Anyway, the billions spent on the poor is bound to line the pockets of the rich as the poor must spend on survival before they can hope to hoard anything. This way every penny of the stimulus reaches the intended beneficiaries. The rich corporations can go bankrupt as the money that would be used to bail them out can directly be used to support the livelihoods of their retrenched employees and other individuals dependent on them. This way the needy and the greedy, both get their dues!
Born in the rich culture of South India and educated in English, I have been exposed to two opposing world views enabling me to achieve synergy and realize true harmony. I belong to linguistic community “Saurashtra” who were silk weavers patronised by kings of yore. Our ancestors are said to have migrated from Western part of India to Tamil Nadu in the South several centuries ago. Growing up in the country as India underwent its pangs of Westernisation, I was able to synthesise the self oriented Western perspective with the community oriented native one to arrive at a wholesome concept of self after considerable efforts and experimentation. My forthcoming book “Searching for Self – In Pursuit of Inner Peace” is the culmination of this labour.