Ryan Flynn –
What if I asserted that the world we live in currently works perfectly? I’m sure most of us will look at this statement and think of hundreds of different ways in which this is incorrect.
As a liberal, it was hard for me to grasp this idea, which I first heard put forward from Invisible Children CEO Ben Keesey at the Fourth Estate Leadership Summit in August of 2013. Ben’s full quote was: “the world works perfectly and is more malleable than you think.” What is meant by that will be explained in the following paragraphs and I will discuss the implications of such idea playing out.
I could be even more assertive in saying that how companies like Walmart, McDonalds, and others run is perfect in terms of the entire world system. Scary claim, huh?
We will use this example of businesses and the market to show that the world runs perfectly. According to Dale Partridge, CEO of Sevenly, there are four distinct eras of capitalism a company is consistently moving through.
Era one is “people over profit,” which is when the company is first starting out. To start a company in today’s world, you must be willing to put the customers first and foremost and offer quality that people can’t get elsewhere. To simplify it, you have to win customers over.
Era two begins to move away from that initial model, and is called “ethical, satisfactory, and efficient.” This era is characterized by assembly lines and out sourcing and is the company’s first push to put profit over people/customers.
Next comes, “unacceptable, unethical, and deceptive.” This is where many big corporations like McDonalds and Walmart are today. It is often characterized by layoffs, shortcuts, and greed.
The final era is “apologetic.” It includes exposing of past lies, domestication, and transparency. This in turn moves the company back to era one, putting people over profit again and repeating the cycle.
However, the way a company gets to this final era and turned back to era one is through activists and citizen involvement in criticism of the company. Citizens rally around different causes that peak their interest or that affect their livelihood, and with enough force and enough participation, they can usually get their voice heard by these Congressman. Of course nothing changes in one go, because when a company is making money, they want to continue hitting the same bottom line. However, without these activists nothing would change, because there is no call for change.
Therefore in a way it works perfectly.
There is this underlying narrative when it comes to being an activist in that nothing is ever enough. You can do the same thing ten times straight with no effective, and then on the eleventh time a match strikes and something finally occurs. Persistence is key. The usefulness in being active in the political system is one that cannot be overstated. With these activists advocating what they want and with citizens going to the polls to vote how they want, change does happen.
Being an activist is a messy process and to think that you can walk into a nonprofit and have immediate success is just not going to happen. Progress takes time and more importantly, it takes commitment by all of us citizens. The world is malleable, we just need to have the motivation and the determination to form it into what works best for everyone.
Ryan Flynn, from Jacksonville, Illinois, is a senior history major at Illinois College. Ryan is Opinions Editor for The Rambler, TRiO Social Committee President, and Class Chair for the Class of 2015.