Only when it happens to me


When a subject is important, it can be important to a person for a number of reasons. When a person doesn’t have enough money to buy bread for the family, that’s important and a pressing concern, but not always for the person who has enough to eat. In other words an important issue can lose its importance because it is no longer a personal and pressing concern, even though it is for others. We can lose all motivation to do anything about injustices when we are not suffering from them. What may be a common concern for some, will not be for all. With this in mind we are able to understand how what is important for many is not important to all. This can lead to a disturbing conclusion, like being without work, food and a home being a tragedy only when it happens to me.

Andrew Yang has three core points in his ‘Human-Centered Capitalism. The first is that humans are more important than money, the second is that the unit of an economy is each person, not each dollar. The third is that markets exist to serve our common goals and values. Many years ago now this same kind of shift happened in how we measure success and how we measure human intelligence, with the standard IQ tests up to that point being unquestioned. Daniel Goleman in his book ‘Emotional Intelligence’ addresses those who have the ability to pick up on emotional changes in people and the ability to discern what caused those changes. When we consider this alongside Andrew Yang’s human centered capitalism, the question, ‘what is man for?’ will still fail to be addressed. As the late Roger Scruton observed (this will be a paraphrase) that people are born in to a world of unchosen obligations, but many today believe that personal choice is the foundation of all obligations. I can thus remove the obligation by making a different choice and the commitments I made yesterday can be overturned today. When choice becomes the foundation of all obligations, there are no unchosen obligations.

In addressing Andrew Yang’s third point (that markets exist to serve our common goals and values) we are left asking another question  ‘what are the common goals and values of humanity?’,and is it not the case that as each person pursues their own goals and values, that this is the reason for why we have acts of greed and charity. In understanding this, we are able to see why Andrew Yang will receive the support of some and not others. Because those common values and goals are not as common as we might think. Even if they look the same on the surface, it doesn’t take long for the exceptions and conditions to emerge. There is as Ronald Higgins once addressed, a human factor in the global crisis.

How can those things which need changing in the world, change when those who are responsible for writing the policies and carrying them out, need to change? What we have is a human centered capitalism, it just doesn’t take all of humanity into consideration. This is because the default mode of the fallen human heart (without God’s common grace being applied) is to consider a tragedy only as a tragedy when it happens to us personally. What people need is not new policies but new hearts.

By Daniel Ralph

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