Respect in a Capitalist World

In our modern society, when we succeed in making money, others tend to respect us. Our system of capitalism holds up those who can earn and spend material wealth. Collectively we tend to admire those who have been “successful” – note the word “successful” typically means “financially successful.” It is even the very basic tenet of Customer Service that the customer, who is controlling the money to be spent, is to always receive respect.

The entire capitalism system of our society exists within a reality of constraints. Physical resources are required for survival, and they are limited. We have evolved within a stark “kill or be killed” environment in which stealing food from the other guy meant survival and the success of one’s self and one’s progeny. Our capitalist system is a more sophisticated version of the same process of controlling resources. As the system pushes most individuals to work hard in order to acquire the resources they want and need, the total physical output is relatively great (great relative to living in the wild), and thus many can survive or thrive. However, it is still a system of force and aggression. It may be subtle force, but the lives of billions are very heavily influenced by this system’s power over physical resources. Since control of physical resources has historically meant success and survival, our culture has evolved to applaud it as successful.

Yet success in the larger reality has very little to do with material success. Indeed, we are not even physical beings, but beings of conscious awareness who can take many forms! Our success is not derived by the material possessions or even the bodily survival of any of the avatars that we play. Ownership of physical objects or the power to allocate physical resources is almost totally insignificant in the Big Picture.

True success goes much deeper, to matters of the being: to matters of selflessness, to the conquering of fear, to creativity, to Love. As we grow on our spiritual journeys, we should take note of this, so that we might gently re-direct what we ourselves value in our lives. As we all begin to do this, we will begin to respect each other for what matters- for Love- and not primarily for our ability to control the allocation of a bunch of transient physical objects.

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