I love and appreciate big oil, big medicine, and politicians. I mean it.
It is easy to hate these groups today.
It is common to see people casting judgment against them as extortionists, thieves, and liars.
But lets think about something…
And do they deserve such scorn and distrust?
1. Big Oil, Medicine, And Politicians Make This World A Better Place
Because of oil companies, I am never more than a couple of miles from a tank of gas.
I don’t have to drill down hundreds of feet into the ground, pump out crude oil, refine it, ship it, or deal with the regulations around it. All I have to do is pull up to a gas station, swipe my card, and viola. I have a full tank of gas.
That is amazing.
Without the investment, hard work, research, and development from companies like BP and Exxon, I would not have this modern convenience.
Does it bother me when the price of gas goes up? Certainly. I want to pay as little as possible!
But, at the end of the day, those “evil” oil companies are performing a HUGE service for me. And they deserve to be rewarded for their efforts (i.e., they have a right to profits).
I realize sometimes they make mistakes, and some people have even broken the law. But that doesn’t mean on the whole these companies are evil.
We Should Be Thankful For Big Medicine Every Day
My father has Parkinson’s disease. Because of those “evil pharmaceutical” companies, he can live a (mostly) normal life.
Several of my family members have been diagnosed with cancer. Because of those “evil pharmaceutical” companies, they were able to live long, full lives.
I suffered from a low grade depression for many years. And because of those “evil pharmaceutical” companies, I was able to take a pill that allowed me to fully enjoy life.
Think about that.
Because of big medicine, people all over the world are living longer, healthier, and more joy-filled lives than ever before in history. That is remarkable.
Do I wish these drugs weren’t so expensive? Certainly. Do I wish more people could access these miracle drugs? Absolutely!
But, I have not spent decades and billions of dollars developing these drugs. I have not gone through all the regulatory hoops to test and mass produce pharmaceuticals. I have not hired teams of doctors and scientists to study disorders in depth to find new and innovative solutions.
All I have to do is go to the pharmacy and pick up my miracle in a bottle.
Now, I want more people to have access to modern medicine. But these “evil pharmaceutical” companies deserve to be compensated for developing miracles.
So, how do we allow them to be rewarded for their work, while making these treatments more accessible to the poor and needy?
That is a great question, and one that not enough people are asking. But it is also not the point of this post. I am merely trying to illustrate a point.
I Love Politicians
They protect me. Flat out. Without the government, I would be susceptible to any thug or brute that wanted my property or life.
I may not like how the government always does things. But I am VERY thankful for the police, military, and justice system. Because of them, my inherent rights as in individual have been made a reality in the world.
2. We Engage In Socially Acceptable Bigotry Every Day
It is very chic to hate big companies and politicians these days. Big oil, big medicine, and politicians are often seen as modern day super villains.
We hear stories about oil companies making huge profits when gas prices are soaring, and that makes us mad.
We see prescription companies making tons of money off of new drugs, but the poor and needy can’t afford these treatments. This seems inhumane and wrong.
We throw terms around like “terrible corporation” or “big business” or “big medicine,” and everyone knows what we mean… Huge, profit hungry corporations that don’t care if they step on the little guy to make more money.
In fact, many people believe these companies are conspiring to extort the public. They make people sick to sell them the cure.
They make people dependent on oil and restrict any other forms innovation to make people pay for gas.
These ideas are so prolific in our culture that we accept them as truth without any evidence or support.
Why is it that when someone posts a meme on Facebook about how terrible X company is (without any support or citation of their facts) we believe them.
Yet, when the CEO or President of said company says something, we automatically disbelieve them. We assume they are lying — even if they have facts to back them up.
Why is it we are so ready to believe people are evil that we don’t even need proof to accept it?
I think sometimes it is easy to depersonalize these entities. And that makes it easier to judge them.
Humans have done this throughout history. We dehumanize other people to make our lives easier.
We said africans were subhuman, and that made it easier for us to enslave them. We said native americans were savages, which justified our conquest of their lands.
Throughout history people groups dehumanized others in order to justify their conquest, theft, and brutality.
But here’s the kicker. We look back on these events and it is so obvious what they were doing. It appalls us… But those people didn’t know they were doing it. It was not so clear to them. They thought they were right. The evidence even seemed to support their position.
Africans and native americans were primitive people. They hadn’t developed like the western nations.
They were uneducated. They lacked basic understanding of modern civilization. And they often partook in barbaric rituals that seemed more animal-like than human.
So, to the people of the time, it seem logical to conclude that they must be inferior to western humans.
What I’m trying to say is this: We can see that they were dehumanizing people, but it wasn’t as clear to them.
And here’s the point for us today: We can do the same thing and be just as blind as them if we aren’t careful.
The Nature of Deceptions Is That You Are Deceived
As far as I know, Kris Vallotton coined this obvious yet brilliant phrase.
Once we realize that we have been deceived, we are no longer deceived. Meaning, we can’t know when we’re deceived.
Many people today have bought into the idea that CEOs, corporations, and politicians are liars that can’t be trusted. They want to steal as much money and power from us as possible.
And because of that, we are entitled to hate them. When we have to pay money for gas, or pharmaceuticals, or education, or whatever, we can just get mad at these entities because they are the bad guys.
If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be burdened with high gas prices, or medical expenses, or college tuition, or whatever.
We accept an image of people that casts them as barbarians. And that justifies our anger towards them.
But we are blind to the fact that we are engaging in modern day dehumanization.
In this way, we are like our ancestors. We may not want to kill, conquer, or enslave these individuals, but we have dehumanized them. And that dehumanization allows us to judge them (and fashion laws against them).
We forget that CEOs, politicians, corporate presidents, VPs, executives, and bureaucrats are people. They have families. They take their kids to school, basketball games, and ballet recitals. They have dreams and aspirations. We forget that these “evil corporations” are run, operated, and controlled by people just like you and me.
So let me ask you this: How many people do you know that actively seek to extort their fellow man? How many of your neighbors, fellow church goers, PTA attenders, yoga classmates, and hunting friends want to steal from the people around them?
I hope the answer to that question is very few (if none at all). If not, you may need to rethink your social circles.
Most people want to do the right thing. Society has come a long way. We are no longer brutes and thugs (at least in the West). For the most part, we honor each other and respect each others’ rights.
We may not always like each other, but we don’t steal, rob, or brutalize each other. We have matured beyond that.
The Exception To The Rule… Is Not The Rule
There are some who breach this social contract, but they are the exception to the rule, not the rule itself.
So, why would we think it is any different for people running corporations? Or our country?
I realize that some people have done illegal and wrong things. I am not naive to the fact that some people choose to act evil. But that is not the norm.
Furthermore, it is wrong of me to judge an entire group of people by the actions of individuals.
If a CEO or Politician extorts the public, I cannot assume that about all CEOs and politicians. Just like I can’t assume that all black people are criminals because some of them are in prison. Nor can I assume that all men are rapists because some men choose to rape women.
Assuming these things is called bigotry.
I believe many people in our society are deceived about this modern form of bigotry. Just like our ancestors, we don’t see it. It isn’t clear to us. We feel justified in our assumptions, judgments, and condemnations of companies and politicians.
But, the nature of deception is that we are deceived.
3. How We Are Restricting Progress Rather Than Promoting It
I sum up modern bigotry in one sentence: Corporations, CEOs, and Politicians are guilty until proven innocent.
I want to challenge us to assume the best in people. To believe people’s motivations and aspirations are healthy, or at least tempered by a basic respect for their fellow man.
Let’s assume that people are trying to do the right thing until it has been proven otherwise.
I know I want people to give me the benefit of the doubt. So why would I treat others different?
Would you like other people assuming you were a liar, thief, or brute until you proved otherwise?
People are people. They are mostly good. And these “evil” companies perform huge services for us.
We need to hold law-breakers accountable. No question.
But most corporations, CEOs, and bureaucrats are making this world a better place. We may not always like their strategies, but they are trying to do good.
Can you imagine if one day they decided to stop? Gas stations would run dry. Supermarkets would empty. People would start dying from simple viruses and starvation. And thugs would have free reign to torment the innocent.
Furthermore, condemning corporations and politicians helps no one. In fact, it is probably slowing progress. I know that I don’t want to listen to someone who assumes from the start that I am evil.
No matter how well reasoned their argument may be, I am more likely to brush them off because they have condemned me without knowing me.
So, when we engage in healthy, vigorous debate about society, lets change our baseline. Let’s assume that people are basically good.
I believe this will yield much greater fruit as we continue to advance our society and culture.
What about you? Do you agree?
Thank you for reading.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. So, please leave them in the comments 🙂
Originally published at www.seanedwards.com on September 12, 2014.
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