Chris Matthews was just commenting that Benazir Bhutto’s assassination was “a reminder of the dangerous world we all live in.”
In that moment, it struck me: we all live in a world of our own making. Oh, I don’t mean literally, though fans of The Secret may disagree. But our experience of the world is so deeply tied to our interpretations that what most of us call “truth” is nothing more than our own made up stories.
I look at the world today and see more than 6 billion people surviving. Many don’t have enough water or health care, but they’re surviving. It fact population continues to rise. That doesn’t sound like a dangerous world to me; that sounds like a world that’s provided us pretty much everything we need to thrive. Heck, we’ve even exterminated or controlled all of our natural predators.
To the extent we live in a “dangerous” world, that danger comes from other humans. For example, investment bankers and financial managers who deal in collateralized debt obligations. And yes, the occasional human being kills others. Sometimes it’s in war, or for political reasons, or whatever. And the media focuses on those events precisely because the violent, dangerous events are the exception, rather than the rule.
Most Americans have never suffered pain worse than a stubbed toe. We’re surrounded on the east and west by oceans so broad that no one can cross them without ample warning. We have Mexico and Canada to the south and north. The greatest danger there comes from having too much cheap labor and better ice hockey teams, respectively. As for the rest of the world, we have more intercontinental warheads than everyone else put together and then some.
In short, we’re the most dangerous thing in the world, and in the absolute scale of things, even we aren’t doing much damage. (Except unintentionally, to the environment, but that’s not what Chris Matthews was talking about.)
So Chris lives in a dangerous world because he finds the danger and then calls the world dangerous. He could also look at all the good things and call the world safe, secure, and happy. His choice.
And what is your choice? Which world do you live in?
If you want to bring this into a business context, since this is a business BLOG, let me ask you: when you look at your competition, your industry, and your trends, what stories do you tell? How do you explain the actions of others? The actions of markets? Do you tell a story of luck? Of skill? Of timing? Are you a victim of the market (“the failure of our initiative was because of a bad economy”) or are you a driver of the market (“we did everything we could think of and found the combination that let us become market leader in a mature market”)?
Examine your stories. They’re only stories, and they dictate your every perception, your every decision, and your every action. Choose your stories well.