The other days I stumbled upon some moments from the movie “When angels come to town”. I didn’t have the patience to watch it until the end, but at some point the story was about a shop making and selling Christmas presents. This was a family business, lead from generation to generation by the same family and the film catches the moment when the aged father hands over the responsibility to his son. The shop was traditionally selling cheap gifts and also provided jobs for a couple of people. There wasn’t a great source of money for the family, but a decent one.
One of the first things that the son planned to do (I didn’t watch the film until the end) was to cut some jobs and use machinery for the entire toy production. There is an argument between his father and him, and the son says the company won’t evolve if there is nobody to make the production much efficient and competitive.
I think this is a major issue in our present life: the Profit.
In my opinion, profit means greed. When I hear people around me speaking about this, I see them emptied of their humanity, selfish and cynical.
Would it be better to have a decent income from your business, not big, but good enough to allow your employees to keep their jobs and “eat a white bread along you” – as we say in my language? A profit at all (social) costs would make you richer but create unhappiness around you! It is natural to want to extend your business, to fight your clever competitors, but you should also maintain some harmony with the others. This is significantly important in the days of this economic crisis, which has, until now, as the only consequence in my country, the job loss.
To become too concerned about your profits means you are ready to sacrifice the others for your desires. It means selfishness (my desires are much more important than the others’ ) , greed (I want more!), egocentricity (I don’t care about the others), ambition (I want to have no concurrence!) and cynicism (a certain despise of the others combined with a lack of empathy). From the positive trait of being competitive and enjoy the contest of trade/construction/fabrication, you move to the negative trait of ferocious avarice.
What I see around me – a group of trans-national companies monopolising everything – is the result of the overstatement of the concept of profit.
The Swedish people have a saying – “Lagom är bäst” which is translated by “Lagom is best”. You wonder why lagom wasn’t translated? It’s because it can’t be translated. The entire English-speaking world is based more or less on the profit as the ideal in life. Many people traveled to the Scandinavian countries and were shocked by how well everything goes there, compared to the West. It’s because people don’t want to be “number one” but to be pleased with themselves and the ones around them. Anthony Bourdain, the host of the “No Reservations” TV show (on Discovery Travel) says, when he visits Sweden: “Who wants to be the 15th?” He is unable to understand that some people are not for being the first at all!
I decided to write this topic on the last day of 2008 because it is my hope that the Scandinavian type of society would be the next society type to replace the wild, heartless capitalism. This world is too small for our egos! We must look in the mirror and decide that, unless we live together in peace, we will die together, no matter our religion, race, political view or wealth.
I wish you a “Lagom” New Year!
What a wonderful Post!! A Topic that is relevant to our times!
I will respond to it as best as I can, when I'm relatively free from mundane tasks.
What does the word Lagom represent? Simplicity? Maybe Sweden IS the place where I want to go. It's difficult to be free of greed when one is in the midst of it.
I agree with you that the competitive nature is what is destroying happiness. It is very possible to be efficient without being competitive. Enough is enough, right?
While competitive nature or work motivates us to excel, put in our best efforts and skills in whatever we undertake to do, it may also invite bruised relationships, suspicion, mistrust enemity, and an unwillingness to assist others.
Competitive nature may at times feed our ego, or distort our minds in our successes, (and failures). It seems to stand on the premise, "survival of the fitest", and suggests that failures be looked down upon.
Competition divides, whereas teamwork unites.
Dear Mel, life is sweet in Sweden but holds one of the highest suicide rate on the planet (I believe the highest is Iceland). Something's rotten in this kingdom...
Plus, I've been in Stockholm in May and I was wearing my snowboarding pants (yes, in the city!) I can't dare to imagine the cold in February...
On the plus side, people look very healthy and it IS a very beautiful country.
actually i cannot find any information to back up my sayings about suicide rates in Sweden so forget about it I'm a victim of hoaxes or urban myth and legends...although my islandic friend did tell me about iceland but i cannot find any info about this country either...
Forget it? You had to mention suicide, didn't you? I already live in an area that doesn't get as much sunlight because of the lake effect from the Great Lakes. I live just southeast of Erie Lake. An overcast sky appears to cause depression, which in turn leads to suicide. It's never bothered me in that way, and in fact...I prefer cooler weather than hot, humid heat. I was miserable when in North Carolina...even. Soon as we got to Virginia and the mountains of West Virginia, I was happy again. I could deal with Sweden...isn't that Denmark that's rotten? The saying is...there's something rotten in Denmark. What it is, I haven't a clue, is it fish or something? OH! Google! It's Shakespear...Hamlet... There's a reason he says "state of Denmark" rather than just Denmark: the fish is rotting from the head down—all is not well at the top of the political hierarchy. That applies here in the USA, too.
Rajanji, so true! You posted,
Competition divides, whereas teamwork unites. Sometimes, the things at work don't push one to excel, they push one over the edge! Although I love challenge...I dislike competition and little games where the more you sell, you get goofy things, like a top banana award! Whoever thought THAT one up was a real monkey! If they offered me paid vacation days...I might try a little harder. But I'd rather have my fingernails pulled out than to have to sell credit cards to poor, little, old ladies living on a fixed low income. It's heathen, and I will burn in hell for it... I think. Maybe I could get out of it by claiming to be a conscientious objector!?
Competition divides, whereas teamwork unites.
Sometimes, the things at work don't push one to excel, they push one over the edge! Although I love challenge...I dislike competition and little games where the more you sell, you get goofy things, like a top banana award! Whoever thought THAT one up was a real monkey! If they offered me paid vacation days...I might try a little harder. But I'd rather have my fingernails pulled out than to have to sell credit cards to poor, little, old ladies living on a fixed low income. It's heathen, and I will burn in hell for it... I think. Maybe I could get out of it by claiming to be a conscientious objector!?
"I love challenge... I dislike competition."
This applies to me also. Yesterday there were some British doctors who came to our university for an interactive lecture. I had to attend.
What puzzled me was their puerile style of seeing and doing things. They went on playing an interview between a patient and his family doctor... and then questioned us about the body language we perceived and about the mistakes the doctor did while discussing the issues with the patient. I become aware that the doctors in the UK are trained to show more compassion (not necessarily empathy) to their patients and that they really learn how to behave. It's easy when you have a handful of patients, while we may see even 50 people per day, in certain specialties. But then, the speakers divided the audience in 2 groups and made a sort of contest with questions about some slides they were displaying for everyone to see. Some of us are really introverted, like me. Some others are histrionic and opinion-forming leaders. It was a horrible experience. Also, the fact that they were speaking English in a quiet voice and very fast, added to my frustration and hopelessness. My God, I thought I know English! No, I don't! And they were from southern England... Thanks God they weren't from Scotland, 'cause I heard it's even harder to understand those folks.
What also annoyed me was the fact that they were trying to encourage us be saying jokes that we couldn't understand (or we did, but there was nothing to laugh) and then they were laughing loud of their joke, while the audience was laughing because... they couldn't do anything else - would've seemed strange not to laugh. Another form of encouragement was something I often see on Animal Planet when you're greeting a dog: Yeaaah! Gooood booooy! (well, not exactly the same words, but definitely the same modulation of the voice) My God they're infantile! Another thing was clapping. After they were finishing a case or a section of the lecture, they were clapping and we were clapping, just like plain idiots. A way of expressing an absent-minded joy! Yeeeeey! Yay! There is a smiley in Care2 doing that thing... I can't find it...
Somehow, I could see the enthusiasm and joy typical to Care2. That forced and superficial joy. That imbecile joy. They were smiling all the time, they were irradiating a sense of happiness and contentment, while, by contrast, we were either grave, or simply mentally unprepared for this meeting. Surely judgmental. They were smiling because they're having a decent life, they do not live the fears of living in 3rd world colony, they can return to the protective life of the UK, in a healthier society, while we remain here, to deal with the misery - I guess this was what most of us were thinking. They asked us why we don't work in groups. Because we are aggressive with each other. Why don't we discuss the cases with our supervisors (older doctors, professor, etc.) ? Because the supervisor doesn't have time, is not willing, despises the ones at lower levels or is simply living in his ivory tower (broken contact with the reality).
Why don't we exercise talking with the patients in groups, among us? Because nobody cares. Why don't we make a film of ourselves talking to the patients and then analyze ourselves and what went good or wrong (in the film you can see yourself and discover what you need to correct in your behavior) ? Again, because we don't care.
All in all, the lecture of yesterday was a challenge. I screamed when I went outside, so as to release the stress. It is so hard to understand a different culture. You can't imagine how different life is in my country compared to other countries! You have to live in both worlds so as to understand them. No wonder why there are wars everywhere...
I know, I went off-topic, but I had to say this...
You told the story quite vividly and in spite of your frustration, I had to laugh a little at the whole scenario. Don't be offended by me. You have a cynic's humor with which I can identify.
I applaud you, like one of those idiots, of which you speak.
I can just hear the British accents of the lecturers...and a bloody good time will be had by all! Cheer-e-o! Dew try to be pause...ative.
Recently, I was accused by one of the supervisor's at work for transferring people to her unnecessarily. It's like, hello...what are you there for, anyway? You have access to certain shipping screen information that I don't have at my disposal. If nothing that I say can satisfy a customer and he asks to speak to someone above me, what can I do? Then when I talk to the one above me, who doesn't want the responsibility, ...or if I ring the extension and no one answers, what do I tell the customer? Sorry, but the one that you demand to speak to isn't available because she's too busy taking other calls that shouldn't have been transferred to her. I probably transfer the least, yet I get this guilt trip. You know what I'm going to do from now on? Hang up on the customer who isn't satisfied with my answer. There was actually another supervisor who advised another CSR (customer service representative) to do just that very thing! Hang up on him. CSR's have now become CUSSERS. Then we wonder why our jobs go to India. On one of my screens at work, someone programmed it with my name misspelled as Kus. Big ha, ha, ha! I can't help it if I came from a long line of sailors!
I never asked them to fix it, and you want to know why? I take delight in my inadequacy. Just gives me another reason for being on this little, steamed, lava rock that wears the beautiful disguise of flora and fauna...called Earth.