Most people tend to associate the phrase ‘thinking about the needs of others’ with vaguely charitable, religious, nursing or neighbourly applications. But in today’s world, not thinking about the needs of others is one of the root causes of our econo-cultural crisis. And in the end, it is ruinously expensive.
If you’re employed in marketing, and all you want is to enact a spectacular, newsworthy change to the main brand – in order to make a name for yourself and move on to a more senior position elsewhere – customers will probably lose something they genuinely value in the product, and the employees will eventually lose their jobs as a result of falling sales.
If you’re an investment banker keen to exceed targets for intra-bank sales – without much thought for the needs of the economy you serve – sooner or later millions of people will lose their jobs, and whole nations will lose their pride.
If you’re an accountant interested only in maximising bottom line to the Shareholders (and big bonuses for yourself and other Board directors) jobs will move offshore, indigenous unemployment will rise, and workless young people will at best become institutionalised to welfare, and at worst wreck the neighbourhood through rioting and crime.
If you’re a lawyer out to develop new markets to increase fees without thought for society, the culture will become more litigious, idiotic notices will appear everywhere, packaging will be covered in pointless warnings, surgeons will become wary of even picking up a scalpel, and everyone will feel at times frustrated, and at other times become worried, by warnings that are complete fantasy.
If you’re a copywriter or TV programme commissioner desperate to impress your mates rather than study the market thoroughly, sales will fall, ratings will fall, programmers and admen will become desperate to attract ratings at any price, programme and advertising quality will nosedive, jobs will disappear, and the highpoint of the week will be Simon Cowell.
If you’re a policemen putting personal career before social stability, crime will get out of control, the police reputation will be damaged, you will take bribes, fiddle target numbers, bang up innocent people, redouble the loss of respect for the Force, become politicised, and eventually turn into a glorified Gestapo.
If you’re a journalist for whom nothing matters beyond circulation, readership will fall, phones will be hacked, emails blagged, MPs threatened, policemen bribed, and Government policy compromised totally.
If you’re a senior civil servant whose only concern is a cosy retirement and avoiding decisions, the National Debt will double, the armed forces will be poorly prepared, soldiers will die, privatisations will be nonsensical, millions of pointless jobs will be created, the employees in those jobs will strike when somebody realises their pointlessness, Government will become distracted, the export deficit will balloon, and the Nation will find itself facing an unscaleable skyscraper of debt.
If you’re a politician in thrall to bankers, media gargoyles and mandarin civil servants – interested only in votes, power and Party success – then the needs of all those groups will come before the concerns of ordinary citizens. You will hire criminal liars, creep up backsides and thus be in the dark, offer your own bottom to the rich, sell irreplaceable national assets to profit-fixated insurers, and believe partisan politics to be more important than principle in every last instance.
People sometimes talk about all the institutional employees listed above as having “lost the plot”, but the reality is that they know perfectly well what the plot is – they simply choose to ignore it in favour of sectional, monied needs, personal gratification, and egomania. Brussels, Berlin, Greece, Westminster: the location is of no importance, and the end product is always the same: chaos, anarchy, suffering and – one day – collapse.
The bottom line on uncaring, selfish megalomania is that it costs. In some periods of history – and the current era may well turn out to be one – the egomaniacs and plot-ignorers pay for it with their lives…..and everyone else with their livelihoods.