Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

First Place 2There is an old British saying:  “Penny wise and pound foolish”.  In order to understand this saying one just has to know that the “penny” referred to is a small unit of currency and the “pound” referred to is a much larger unit of currency.  The saying means someone is wise with small amounts of money but unwise with larger amounts.  The saying can be generalized however, to mean things of value other than strictly monetary units.  The saying can be used descriptively with individuals or groups who pay much attention to how actions or issues immediately affect relatively small or limited groups but are inattentive or cavalier about how those actions or issues affect the world-at-large.

I bring this up because I’ve recently found myself thinking about the term “success strategies” and how we define it.  It is definitely my impression that, in general, “success” is most widely defined as, and measured by, the accumulation of personal wealth.  In the board games of “Monopoly” or “Life” this definition has it’s utility.  In a board game one can beat down everyone else, take all the money and in the end everyone can have a good laugh and move on.  However, when we apply this definition of success to real life and the real world (as has been widely the case) it becomes divisive and actually takes on inescapable homicidal and ultimately suicidal ramifications.

The homicidal aspects of a competitive economic paradigm are self-evident.  When numbers on a balance sheet are given an unambiguous priority over any concern for how their increase may affect human lives, there is a rationalized homicidal mindset at work.  The suicidal aspects are a little less first-face and require more deliberation to realize.  Often it requires changing one’s focus from a narrow, immediate perspective to a wider, long term realization of what is genuinely in one’s best interests.

The point is this;  it’s like living in a house with many people, you’re the biggest the strongest person in the house so you make forays into the rest of the house and take over the belongings that others have.  Pretty soon you’ve about hoarded it all.  But now you find yourself in a house filled with depression, anger, fear, want, and other negative emotions.  The environment, the ecosystem of the house is very sickened with these and other psycho/emotional/physical and spiritual maladies.  Pride, jealousy, envy, avarice, inflated and deflated egos.  Your room may be a microcosmic material paradise, yet you’re inescapably a part of the whole house.  It’s only a matter of time before the deterioration, the negativity, that has taken over the majority of the house reaches your room.

Add to this scenario another variable that when you make forays into the house-at-large you leave waste, material and chemical pollutants where you’ve been.  It’s just a matter of time before either something changes and healing begins or the negativity, mental, physical, emotional and spiritual, brings the house down.

We, human beings around the world, have got to stop being “Penny wise and pound foolish.” about how we relate to our lives and our world.  We are all part of the same ecosystem.  When the whole system is healthy and flourishing, we as individuals will be healthy and flourishing.

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