Either the Dalai Lama or David Orr said the following: “The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of all kinds.”
I saw this quote today and it disturbed me. It was attributed to three or four different people when I Googled it, as quotes often are, but Lama and Orr seemed most convincing.
It didn’t just disturb me because I imagined two prominent intellectuals in an argument over who should get credit for an Internet meme, but because I know it’s true and I’m not going to do anything about it, at least for a while.
Most of my energy at this point is focused on making money and increasing my influence in what I’m sure the quote’s author would see as the pursuit of success. That’s unlikely to change anytime soon. Of course I have visions of what I’d like to do when I reach the peak, convinced that the journey alone, the proof that I’m capable of making and taking whatever I want, will be enough for me – I’ll give all the money back before it ruins me, spend sleepless nights evaluating who I should trust to distribute it, help the hopeless understand that rules, like fears, are often make believe, mediate successful peace talks between hostile world leaders, do everything necessary to ensure that I’ll never be forgotten – but who doesn’t daydream ambitiously?
Clearly whoever uttered that statement was thinking about success in a financial sense. If success was measured in terms of peacemaking, healing, and so on, the Dalai Lama, assuming he’s the source of the quote, would surely be considered a success and it would be a nonsensical thing to say.
At this point, though, I don’t think it’s selfishness or greed that motivates me. Becoming financially successful is usually an important component to becoming meaningfully influential, and change without influence is nearly impossible.