Achievement driven ~ Orange [ER] merit values…
Five hundred years ago Orange, ‘merit’ values (cf. “Operating systems” here) germinated as The Renaissance. Full birth into Western culture was evidenced by The Enlightenment and modernity. Significantly, innovation is a key animating energy seeking expression through Orange values. ER merit values created democratic nation-states, capitalism, modern medicine, nuclear weapons, put a man on the moon, and unlocked the human genome, to name but a few. Healthy ER animating energies such as appropriate self-interest, curiosity, evidence-based research, and innovation are crucial to occasion human development beyond a rather basic agricultural civilization.
Technology had been with us since the inception of the lever, inclined plane, primitive tools, weapons, the wheel, etc. However, with the precision now available through ER— formal operational reasoning, mathematics, and modern science—technological development was able to really blossom and the industrial revolution germinated and flowered.
Biological life is based in the reality of simple exchange economies. Our bodies exchange gases, liquids, and solids with our environment—we must breathe, drink, and eat to survive. Orange, ‘merit‘ values raised the ante and significantly expanded the scope and scale of exchange economies with the advent of market capitalism.
In an earlier blog post we discussed one overreach of Orange [ER] ‘merit‘ values, namely, the objectification of reality through scientific materialism. Today we’ll add another Orange shadow: greed. It seems healthy Orange values of individualism, innovation, subjective rationalism, and life conditions to include capitalistic opportunity, prime (naïve) new markets, and the lack of any regulatory framework going in, all made greed very tempting, and very likely—and, as we will see, other values sets also contribute to the manifestation of greed.
As only white people can solve systemic white supremacy, only those of wealth will be able to solve poverty. The plain facts of poverty/poor people are a difficult reality for most Americans to genuinely acknowledge in any compassionate way. Last week we considered that skin color still profoundly separates the U.S.A. on a race basis. This has historically been reinforced by the fact that rents tend to segregate us on a class basis.
So, let us adjust our benchmark for being ‘rich’ to a more globally realistic level. I ask you to consider it to be the case that ‘you are wealthy!’ Chances are no matter how you are actually doing you resist this way of describing yourself. So, let me be crystal clear about what I am claiming. What I mean to say is, if you are in a position to go to the pantry, or to the refrigerator (or out to the store or a restaurant) and successfully acquire all you desire to eat, any time it strikes your fancy, then: You are rich! Congratulations, good on ya! There are many human beings all over the planet—even in your own town—who can only dream of having such reliable, ready access to something as necessary as food.
Conversely, the existence of people suffering severe food insecurity is the proof of greed. We have talked a bit about personal projection. Projection also operates in the shadows of our culture. In other words, poor people are the systemic expression of greed. That some people do not have the minimum resources for dignified life is a reflection, a projection of a society that celebrates and glorifies people who have gathered more resources for themselves than they could possibly consume in ten thousand lifetimes. Mind you, it is perfectly legal to accumulate vast amounts of wealth while neighbors suffer hunger, but is it healthy? Then, too, greed drastically effects our environment.
Obviously, the fruit of greed is not healthy for those who are food insecure. I’ve been searching for gracious and compassionate ways of seeing naïve expressions of various values sets. I do find it difficult because the fruit of unhealthy values is often hazardous to human life—all life. In this instance we must confess that greed is a serious, even deadly expression of naïve Orange [ER], ‘merit‘ values.
Seeing everything transactionally, naïve ER merit values confuse money and the accumulation of wealth with success in life. The ubiquity of the “prosperity gospel” is evidence that we have forgotten why we needed enhanced exchange economies to begin with—that is, to help growing human populations to live with dignity. In his 2013 Apostolic Exhortation (here), Pope Francis has identified the chief problem with Orange shadows:
The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose.
Greed—a deadly, soul destroying shadow of (naïve) Orange [ER] ‘merit‘ values— blindly produces systems and structures of social and economic inequality. We divert our eyes and fail to even recognize those who are excluded for falling short on ‘merit’ as judged through our bigoted values. Exodus 32.22-24 reads:
And Aaron said, “Do not let the anger of my lord burn hot; you know the people, that they are bent on evil. They said to me, ‘Make us gods, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ So I said to them, ‘Whoever has gold, take it off ‘; so they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”
Aaron wastes no time projecting responsibility for the golden calf—which represented the idolatry of the people for a graven image.
In the “No to an economy of exclusion” section of the 2013 paper, Pope Francis has identified the blindness of this prosperity and greed dynamic in very stark terms:
How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion.
We would love to say, “This does not confront me, I am not of the 1%.” Our own privilege is invisible to us making it easy to forget that we are rich. Remember, because we are able to eat to our heart’s content any time we desire. We are wealthy and we control the resources and therefore the power to end the kind of poverty that creates the vulnerability of food insecurity.
On a global scale
Orange merit values have been widely expressed through the industrial revolution. This advancement in civilized society also had a nasty shadow that produced tremendous environmental impact, not for the better. Sure, in the beginning we could rightly call this simply a naïve feature of a new values set, e.g., unintended consequences. While that’s a necessary evil, sadly, naïvety is also usually quite resistant to correction—even seemingly willful. For instance, this past week the E.P.A. has lowered standards on carbon emissions. This at the same time that new satellite photos offer conclusive evidence of disappearing polar ice (here).
Orange greed is also fueled by Beige, Purple, Red, and Blue values’ influences as well. The practical intersection of different values constellations concerning any particular issue reveals some really fascinating things about human beings and the interdependent nature of the systems they inhabit, and that inhabit them. Above we see the tension between prosperity and environmental responsibility. This has been an inter-stage struggle for over 50 years. We’ll look further into this next time in, “Looking above and below,” publishing September 2. Please continue the conversation this week.
I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say? —Agree or not, let’s hear from you!