Uniting Personal and Collective Usefulness?

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A short time ago, a group of us discussed India, the social situation in that country and values, along with and in particular the ever-present and noticeable differences between “extremely rich” and “extremely poor” on the Google+ Community “Strategic Morals„.

One of us reported about his last trip to India and also told us about a skyscraper in Mumbai which an Indian billionaire built for his family of four. Allegedly, one family (parents and three children) live there with 400 employees serving them.

I know the skyscraper.  Some friends of mine told me that especially the health of the children of the family are in a catastrophic state. They also said that there is a complete, high-standard surgical department in this private skyscraper and that there is even a medical on-call service for this family.

I do not know if my information is correct. But regardless of whether or not it is correct, I would not wish to change places with this property owner.

However, I do not understand why even we here in our country tolerate and even promote a society with social rules that make it possible to get immensely rich in one short life. In my opinion, the question how these riches have been gained is irrelevant.

The prosperity of the “new” Russians or Chinamen, called oligarchs, is something I deeply distrust. The same is true for the money a “Michi Schumacher” (with whom I would not wish to change places either, even though he is considerably younger than I) who became a billionaire through “sports”. I also have my doubts about the “method” of a Steve Jobs (another person I would not wish to change places with), who managed to quasi become immensely rich as an entrepreneur.

The same is true for the million-dollar incomes of some DAX enterprise board members, especially if their salary is then added to by huge bonuses. Because I actually doubt that they are totally socially justifiable.

To be sure, I, too, know how hard it is to find a healthy social consensus. Where is the correct line or border for “tolerable riches”?

What might be a possible solution of the “social question”?

A short time ago, I read about the idea that, basically, it should be enough if we managed to “unite” individual and collective usefulness. The only thing that would be necessary for this idea to work is the development or establishment of a common awareness: only if something is collectively useful will it also be useful for an individual. And the same is true vice versa: only if something is useful for an individual will it be useful for the entire society.

How about making this the basis for an ethical “criterion” which might be used as a relevant maxim for “ethical behaviour”, just like the “golden rule” or the “law of behaving in a biophile manner”?

For instance:

“Always behave in such a way that the consequences of your behaviour will equally be beneficial for yourself and the collective social systems you are integrated in. And vice versa!”

(Translated by EG)

I took the picture from Wikipedi. It is by Krupasindhu Muduli and under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

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