Human beings are social animals. We didn’t come to dominate the planet by overcoming lions, tigers and bears on our own as individuals. We did it by working together, helping each other, learning from each other, sharing in groups large and small. We need each other, and our institutions from the smallest (the family) to the largest (the nation) to those in between (businesses, communities, friends, state and local governments).
But contributing to those groups carries risks. Risks of being exploited, caring without being cared out, being misunderstood, cheated, neglected, deceived. Because others might exploit those personal and social and business and government relationships to their own ends, taking as much out, and putting as little in, as possible. Since that is also part of human nature – to see everything through the prism of self-interest.
To live and work together, human beings require trust. But trust can be exploited, abused, betrayed. That’s the human dilemma. It has been for thousands of years. Societies where people can trust each other, and their leaders, thrive. People who betray that trust can come out ahead — until everyone is doing it. And then the very social foundation that makes that betrayal possible crumbles to dust, taking all with it. And here we are.Continue reading