The economic crisis of 2008 gave us an opportunity as a society; an opportunity to change our ways and return to some of our oldest and best values. Our current values have put us in this economic crisis and if our values do not change, we will be right back where we started in 2008. As a society, we have forgotten some basics like how we value success and how we do business. To fix this problem, change has to come from families, communities, and society as a whole. This will take time since change like this is never quick, but if we choose and rechoose new habits every day, we will begin to see an economical and moral recovery.
Ethics and public life are familiar topics for Jim Wallis. He is a New York Time bestselling author and currently serves as the vice chair of the Global Agenda Council on Values of the World Economic Forum. It was at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland where he came up with the idea for his book, Rediscovering Values.
Our cultural sins are to blame for the economic collapse and Wallis blames this on three maxims that have replaced old values. They include “Greed is good”, “It’s all about me”, and “I want it now”. To support his argument, Wallis uses numerous examples from our society as well as books, television shows, and biblical passages.
The first maxim, greed, is described by Wallis as “enough is never enough”. He uses the example of a bankrupt CEO flying in a private jet because the rich believe they are entitled to be treated like royalty even if they are not successful. His argument is convincing because his example is commonly seen in business today. Wallis then describes the struggle to distinguish between what we need and what we want. He blames this problem on advertising and sponsorships, which I do not agree with. I feel that he only presents one side of the argument here. Advertising may be a way to attract customers, but it does not force a person to buy the product. The person makes that decision based on his/her own will. I believe the problem in the need vs. want argument is the individual, not advertising.
Wallis describes the second maxim, “It’s all about me”, as narcissistic. His argument is very convincing because he uses social media and reality television, two things very common in our society. Wallis states that Facebook’s success is due to the fact that people are able to post and say “Look at me!” His argument can be supported by many examples in our life today. In November 2013, the Oxford Dictionary announced that the word of the year was “selfie” which is defined as a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website. This shows how our society is obsessed with attention and how correct Wallis was when talking about society.
The final maxim, “I want it now”, is described by Wallis as “the ethic of buy now, pay later”. His conclusions on debt are fair because he describes both the...