What makes you happier: loving or being loved? Giving or receiving presents?
We needn’t confirm what is obvious. Of course, wealth and happiness can only be created by competition, motivation, ambition and a healthy dose of selfishness. Of course, capitalism is the only system that will bring us forward. And of course, it contains predatory elements of “dog-eat-dog” – and needs them to bring about progress.
But it must also be imbued with humanity, helpfulness and warmth.
In principle, the count-me-out mentality of a heartless society is alien to man. And you can only kiss yourself on a cold mirror.
Economics has taught us that we always work better as a team – but also that teamwork means often having to laboriously adapt to others and keep them involved.
Evolutionary research has taught us that Nature doesn’t care about individuals and that only the survival of the species is important.
Psychology has taught us that the path to personal happiness always leads past the happiness of others. Or put another way, that doing something for your family, friends or others paradoxically makes you happier than only ever worrying about your own advancement.
We need one another in a truly existential sense. And not just for friendship, at school, in teams, in love, for passion and for reproduction. We need the pact between on the one hand parents whose upbringing and love build their children a springboard into life and on the other the next generation, which will one day thoughtfully look after its elderly parents.
What we need in terms of care for the elderly is a pact between the generations, i.e. between the working population and pensioners. If we want peace and stability in an ever-shrinking world, we must join forces and secure the basic needs of the poorest of the poor. If we do not, we will see many more aeroplanes flown into skyscrapers and terrorist attacks of every kind. We are angels with only one wing – but not just in the romantic sense, in that man only becomes human through love.
And paradoxically all this is always about self-interest; the driving force behind capitalism and the market economy. I can only consider myself happy and successful in my life if I do not seek solely to satisfy my own interests, but at the very least equally to satisfy those of my fellow man. As such, no priest need preach to me about the rewards of the afterlife. We can reap them here and now through the immense satisfaction of stepping beyond the narrow confines of our own cosmos, helping others and feeling like we’re a part of something.
Or to put it in golfing parlance: the perfect swing, that magical moment when everything goes right, leads away from me.