November 1, 2019: The Trouble with Civility, Part II

Once you realize that trickle-down economics does not work, you will see the excessive tax cuts for the rich as what they are — a simple upward redistribution of income, rather than a way to make all of us richer, as we were told. Ha-Joon Chang

When we replace a sense of service and gratitude with a sense of entitlement and expectation, we quickly see the demise of our relationships, society, and economy. Steve Maraboli

Civility is hard, but civilization cannot truly be built by the “haves” over the “have nots.”  That is not civil, it is contemptuous.  Yet we have an economy built on a “trickle-up” principle—sort of like a “casino economy” (see The Inescapable Casino, by Bruce M. Boghosian. Scientific American, November 2019). Some folks get lucky, but it is the “casino” owners who gradually—okay, sometimes quickly—accumulate wealth at the expense of others.  And we’re good with it because hey, those “casino-owner” folks are among the brightest and best.  After all, it is a just world and the poor deserve their economy as do the wealthy.  “Civilization” allows this divide because we believe the basis of freedom is that we are all free to have or free to have not? 

We have to decide about a new brand of civility and civilization and it will not be easy or inexpensive.  Or we can just keep on keeping on, hoping to get lucky and calling that a gift of character that distinguishes us from others who must be the “children of a lessor god.”  And we can continue fighting with each other over who will save us, ignoring those “saviors” who get us to fight among ourselves while they keep the differences inflamed and their hands in the till.

What could possibly go wrong with civilization and civility using those compass headings?

2 Responses so far.

  1. Edgar says:

    Hello Mr. Gibbs,

    I had a hard time understanding what you meant when you wrote, ““Civilization” allows this divide because we believe the basis of freedom is that we are all free to have or free to have not?”. We live in a capitalist economy where there is equality of opportunity instead of equality of outcome. Is it more ethical to have equality of outcome when there are people who work harder than others and people who risk investment more than others? Of course the journey for a financially better life may be easier to some than others, but isn’t there always opportunity?

    You also quoted Steve Maraboli, “When we replace a sense of service and gratitude with a sense of entitlement and expectation, we quickly see the demise of our relationships, society, and economy.”. I am not sure if you are suggesting a different type of economy, but rather a shift in values. I do agree with this shift, but is a different economy that way to go? How do you suggest that we change the beliefs from entitlement and expectation to service and gratitude when capitalism influences the idea of entitlement and expectation? 

    • Travis Gibbs says:

      Holiday Greetings, Edgar!

      Actually, I do not think there is equality of opportunity. There are many denied opportunity, not because they cannot succeed, but because of ethnicity, gender designations (sex), where one lives (property taxes fund much of education, so poor neighborhoods don’t get equal educational opportunities), and so on.

      I’m not suggesting that capitalism is defunct, I’m wondering about what else can be partnered with it to actually improve the lot of all as what we have or don’t have is not simply a result of effort. I suggested a basic floor of thriving and noted 6 steps in that process (http://www.travisgibbs.com/september-18-2017-awake-focus-and-come-together/). The point is not about the 1%, they can have their wealth, the point is about making sure there is that basic floor of thriving for all. We do not want to kick the Helen Kellers of the world to the curb or to take a chance they may not have an Anne Sullivan to help them thrive.

      Geez, I’ve discovered that much of my writings are archived as I had to search that section to find that particular piece. Hmm, discovering stuff about my own website…

      Happy Holidays to you!

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