Between locking your values firmly in tradition, never to examine them again, and being completely value-free and random in your choices, there is an in-between: Be(come) aware of your situation and the state of society and the world – and choose your values consciously, acting on them accordingly. Re-investigate your values periodically to make sure they still make sense or adjust them to new demands of a changing environment.
What got us into the current world-economic and climate mess? The short answer, according to many media headlines these days, is: Greed. Greed is about the absence of values. Greed is about short-termist thinking, about the next three months rather than the next 30 years. Profit as a mono-criterion is *not* sustainable – it creates a win-lose situation. The trouble with that is what The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change (2006) pointed out: 5-20 % of global gross domestic product will be lost *per year* if stabilizing measures are not introduced. We will experience *market failure*. Stern states: “Our actions over the coming few decades could create risks of major disruption to economic and social activity, later in this century and in the next, on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century.”
The breakdown of the financial industry, the breakdown of the automotive industry already demonstrate how short-termist thinking *will* produce a backlash worse than everything ever imagined. If we don’t tie ourselves to well-chosen values, we will experience a series of unimagined breakdowns over the coming years. Healthy (albeit moderate) profits and healthy companies need to be firmly integrated with and embedded in a complex and interdependent context of healthy (well cared-for) customers, healthy (well cared-for) employees, and a healthy (well cared-for) environment. Yes, this is holistic thinking indeed – our common interest can not be less than a world in balance. And if new business models are needed for that, then we need the best minds everywhere to think hard about those.