I was fortunate enough yesterday to hear for the first time Robert Kennedy's speech forty years ago (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77IdKFqXbUY), in which he questioned the way America measured progress and well-being.
It struck me as a fine example of the essence of great leadership. It was inspiring, all about the highest human values, and suggesting to people that maybe continual striving to accumulate more and more material wealth is not the whole answer to progress and well being.
If we accept for a moment that the highest values we can aspire to, and which are likely to deliver lives most worth living for ourselves and those around us, would include happiness, freedom and love, then we can begin to see that unfettered capitalism, rampant greed and a competitive/scarcity mindset may on occasion conflict with those highest values.
Now, we're not arguing here that poverty is good. The reverse is true, and wealth creation helps lift people out of poverty. What happiness studies have found, though, is that happiness is increased significantly for people who begin to earn until they get to £10,000 per year, then the happiness impact of adding to that diminishes. We just get used to a higher and higher standard of living and it becomes part of the fabric. We dont get happier.
Happiness comes from relationships, striving for worthwhile goals, making a contribution of service to others (just TRY a sample of voluntary work to find out what I mean, one selfless act).
Have a listen to Kennedy's speech. Forget politics, be human, focus on what's important to us all