When we examine nature and human behavior, we discover that it is driven by ego, which cares about only two things: feeling pleasure and avoiding pain. If we examine ourselves closely, we will realize that apart for basic necessities, we inherit all desires from the society we live in: what we eat, how we dress, the jobs we choose, the goods we covet, and our attitudes toward the rest of the world. We acquire our preferences from those whom we are taught to respect and admire.
Moreover, once our basic needs are secured, some develop a desire to rule over others and take advantage of them. Once we determine what we want, we start looking for ways to get what we want. This is why we are so dependent on the society – it is a supplier of our desires and the means to satisfy them.
For this reason, if we build a society that values cooperation and compassion for others, we will avoid selfishness, over-consumption, and pursuit of fame, fortune, and power in order to gain others’ recognition and approval.
One way or the other, the ego demands connection with the society while envisioning itself as the ruler. But society can “implant” us with the opposite values, without shattering the ego: Do be great, be proud, be all you can be and more! But do it in a constructive way rather than destructive.
In other words, the ego, which is used to gaining personal benefit at the expense of others, can gradually be transformed – through the influence of the environment, the society we are in.
Picture a person running for office. What are his or her objectives? To be in power, to prove that they know best! They want to run the government, make new laws, and establish a new order. Yet, what do they say to the public? Something along the lines “I will serve everyone, work for the common good; I will treat you all as my own family.”
This is an example of how one’s connection with the society compels a person to show an altruistic attitude, even if it is mere words, prompted by noting but egoistic intentions and strife for personal gain. Imagine what we could achieve if society could, in fact, induce altruistic attitudes within us, rather than empty words!
When candidates running for office make promises—“I will create jobs,” “I will provide housing, financial security,” and so on—the society must hold them accountable. If candidates wish to be elected, they must know that they are expected to be accountable for the promises they made. In return, the people will value and recognize their leadership. They will gain respect, power, and social approbation according to their efforts to serve their constituencies.
Likewise, we need not complain, blame, or demand someone to change since it is pointless and unrealistic. Instead, we can influence a person (be it a leader or not) indirectly, through public feedback, into gladly accepting the assigned responsibilities and following through on them.
Such an approach would create an encouraging environment for a person to adapt behaviors in accord with the nature of society, just as a plant grows and acts in accord with the temperature, moisture, atmospheric pressure, and other conditions in its environment. Moreover, the process itself would be enjoyable and rewarding, just as a child enjoys playing with others and learning at the same time.