A coin has two sides: heads and tails; but that is how life is generally. There are always two forces at war in every spare of human existence. We have good and bad, up and down, hot and cold etc. This is a reality that many believe can only be seen through the eyes of the blind. Life is about choices and consequences. For every action, there is a reaction. When push comes to shove, what we find is that all human choices are driven by two critical elements – fear and greed.
All over the world, nobody, institution or organization, does anything for anybody solely for altruistic reasons even though they might pretend to. This is not an opinion peculiar to me as Adam Smith the great economist once said ‘it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard for their own selfish interest’.
Nothing makes us more distressed than fear and nothing makes us take action like greed. Fear is our primordial instinct and greed is the reason why we are not frozen in the glaziers of time. Take a look at most of societies’ challenges throughout history and how they were solved. The aero plane, medical advancement, weather and meteorology, and engineering to mention but a few. At the core of these advancements layed a huge coin with the sides of greed and fear. The options were and are still not sugarcoated; it is either you act or be overwhelmed, create value and be richer or do nothing and have posterity forget that you ever existed. These forces have constantly taken turns in our subconscious, in our decision making process and in some cases, they operate as a tag team. A ready example is the fear of disease that makes people engage in protected sex or avoid extra-curricular sexual activities. Another is seen in the frenzy during the buildup to the 2015 Presidential elections. We witnessed a lot of impulse buying of food, fuel, drugs, withdrawal of unwanted cash because a lot of people were apprehensive of the outcome.
Now back to the business arena. Why is the world frantically looking for a cure for HIV/AIDS? Love? Nah!!! Fear of extinction and the possible trillions of dollars to be made. When Apple introduced iTunes to help combat the menace of piracy, was it prompted by her sympathy for the intellectual property of artists that were constantly infringed upon? I believe you know the answer.
The components of fear are non-exhaustive ranging from fear of pain, criticism, poverty to the most dangerous of all – the unknown. Funny enough, greed as a major propellant of most of the actions feeds off a major type of fear: fear of poverty. In present day Nigeria, most of the unacceptable “corrupt” acts are prompted by fear of poverty. A man has a job or thriving business but is afraid of the future and so engages in shady deals to make some quick buck. Why? We live in a concrete jungle. Why don’t we just take only that which we need? The answer is simple, we want more! No matter what we have in life, we find ourselves wanting more. I must confess that this is the attitude that has prompted advancement in a lot of quarters; after all greed is contentment.
Moving onto the platform of this publication, you will find that there are quite a lot of opinions and arguments on the internet, especially the social media. I guess it’s because they really want to solve societies’ problems. Are you going to have that? Most of them just want to be heard or seen on T.V, for others, the fame and possibly nominations for awards or appointment.
With due respect to the contributions of people like Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jnr and Mother Theresa of Calcutta to mention but a few who made mind blowing sacrifices for humanity, we are all afraid and/or selfish. These people were actually spurred into action by the fear of what they saw on the horizon if they failed to take the steps they did. As a matter of fact, by giving what they did to humanity, they secured both their future and that of their immediate societies. Truthfully, all humans in every human endeavor are working towards protecting their interests or assuaging their fears. These two elements are critical to happenings in the business and political arena which is akin to the life of the gladiators in the ludus of Batiatus. Even among thieves, there is honour; there must therefore be moderation in the way we protect ourselves and promote our interests. Society must assuage her fears, especially that of tomorrow by effectively encouraging and rewarding hard work and creativity.