Play the Cards

BLOG-GOODThis podcast continues the discussion with the executives of the Standard Charter Bank in Singapore, the company slogan of which is “Here for Good.” The talk I gave to this group of multinationals centered on the possible connotations of that slogan.

First off, “Here for Good” can refer to the common and universal desire to live the “good life” in the sense of a prosperous, comfortable, and pleasurable existence. This segment explores two more dimensions of what “Here for Good” might entail.

The “good life” in the first sense depends on the “good life” in a second sense, that is, a life governed and guided by ethics. And while knowing what the right thing is to do is sometimes not entirely clear, in general we need not overly complicate what constitutes a “good life” in the moral sense: don’t harm others, don’t take what doesn’t belong to you, don’t sleep with people you shouldn’t sleep with, don’t lie, and so on.

BLOG-ACTIONWe all know the rules, but when it is inconvenient to follow them we are tempted to just jettison them in the hopes that we will somehow “get away with it.” So perhaps the most important of the ethical guidelines is this: Every action will have a consequence, either positive or negative. What we do, say, and think matters.

The third connotation of “Here for Good” evokes a sense of continuity, stability, and trustworthiness. As individuals, groups, and institutions, it is important to convey to others the sense that they can count on us, that we are dependable. But it is unreasonable and unrealistic to think that “Here for Good” means permanence and changelessness. Mistaking changing things for unchanging things is a major source of our suffering, and the life that we live is characterized by change in every one of its dimensions.

BLOG-CARDSThe Cosmic Dealer gives us new cards on pretty much a moment-by-moment basis. And it doesn’t matter if we like or don’t like the hand we are dealt – these are the cards we have to play, and we can’t just turn in our hand (or any part of it) in the hopes we will be given better cards. A skilful player makes the best of the cards he or she is dealt in the best way possible, maximizing the possibilities inherent in any situation.

Acceptance is not the same as apathy; contentment is not synonymous with complacency. As we play life’s card game, we must both acquiesce to the reality of any situation – “It’s like this now!” – and also negotiate the situation as wisely and adeptly as we can.

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