Pope Francis Urges People to Pause, See, and Return: Recognizing Human Need Is More Than Economic Need
Ash Wednesday may be a Christian holiday and the Pope may be a Christian leader, but the Pope is also a world leader whose influence stretches around the globe and whose counsel is revered by other world leaders. It is, therefore, wise to reflect on his words of wisdom during one of the most important occasions on the Christian calender. For Ash Wednesday 2018, Pope Francis asked Christians to “pause,” “see,” and “return.” Pope Francis wants Christians to step away from the chaos of their fast-paced modern lifestyles, reflect on the human costs of everything happening in the world, and forge ahead with compassion. Although the Pope emphasized the need to say no to violence and conflict, his intent was for his message to be broadly applied in all aspects of life.
As a lifelong advocate for the poor, Pope Francis would certainly like to see more people reflect on issues like poverty. While the capitalist philosophy has helped formalize, standardize, professionalize, and connect the economies of the world, which has allowed them to grow, the capitalist mindset has transformed how people think and the way societies function. The competitive nature of capitalism has incentivized productivity and innovation, but an addiction to excessive competition has pushed the global economy to ignore human and social needs. Locked in a fierce competition, major global competitors, e.g. the global wealthy elite and wealthy corporations, must continually grow their profits, so they must continually push for increased consumption and decreased costs.
What drives the today’s global economy is the need of wealthy actors to grow their profits, not service the actual needs of consumers, i.e. people. Almost all businesses have some form of customer satisfaction or quality control, yet few are actually driven by the needs of their customers. What the business needs comes first. On the one hand, a business cannot exist unless it is financially viable, so the needs of the business must be a priority. On the other hand, a business cannot exist unless it meets the needs of customers. In a fast-faced business environment that demands perpetual and massive income growth, it is easy for business leadership to overlook the needs of customers in order to meet their immediate need for growth. It is also easy for business leadership to overlook the needs of their human employees and the impact of their business model on the economy, which impacts their long-term ability to service the needs of their customers.
Healthy, well-balanced people are motivated by economic incentives, emotional incentives, and social incentives, thus they act based on their economic, emotional, and social interests. The capitalist mindset drives people and business to act solely on their economic interests. A sociopath is someone who lacks the capacity for empathy, which means a sociopath will act solely on his, or her, economic interests. Consequently, the capitalist mindset actually encourages people to become mentally unbalanced, unhealthy people who lust for financial gains at the cost of their emotional and social needs. Sociopathic leadership transforms businesses into parasitical organisms that drain communities of the resources their human populations need instead of using these resources to serve people.
When the “human component” is no longer the primary focus of business, society, and people, violence and conflict become irrelevant. Poverty becomes irrelevant. All human issues become irrelevant. When economics become the sole motivation of people, businesses, organizations, and governments, the only thing that matters is the pursuit of wealth and power. Addiction becomes the all-consuming purpose of life, which makes for an miserable life as all addicts and their loved-ones eventually discover. As the Pope suggested, people need to pause, see, and return. People must remember they have other human needs that go beyond their economic needs. Business leaders must remember their businesses survive and thrive only when they are able to serve the needs of their customers.
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