April 4, 2012

Is your job giving you bad karma? ~ Melissa Coetzee


When your job is about making money and your livelihood depends upon that money, it’s easy to justify looking the other way.

We all do it. Greg Smith did it for Goldman Sacks for years; 12, to be exact.  However, Smith found himself in a unique situation, having worked at an investment firm whose sole purpose was the accumulation of money. He was able to afford his early retirement and leave on his own terms.

It’s commendable he retired, and it looks as though he has been rewarded with instant celebrity and a book deal. Maybe he is the unlikely champion of the Occupiers and the wealthy alike. Maybe he will go on to inspire others in his position to follow his lead, showing us even late in the game it is possible to stop the inertia of our present course, make a dramatic change and still come out OK. However noble and simultaneously karmically self-serving his intentions are, the other 99 percent of us are in a position that without a job, we would be without a home.


The reality is that we cannot survive on principles, we cannot eat integrity and we cannot sleep under self-worth. 

How often are we empowered to demonstrate integrity at work? Conflicted between what we know is the “right” thing to do on a human level but “wrong” for the company. A whistleblower or even an ethical worker in today’s workforce will quickly find him or herself out of a job.

Somewhere along the line a sentiment emerged and empowered us to feel that if a karmic crime is committed while on the job, it’s the company that suffers the karmic retributions and not us personally.

Chanting a siren song of “It’s not me, it’s the company”; is an effort to separate ourselves from the company as much as possible, but still reap the benefits of enforcing unethical company policies.

As an employee, you are a representative and a part of that company. What you do on company times is not separate from yourself; you represent that company and everything they stand for.  You have committed the majority of your waking hours to those principles. They represent who you are and what you do whether you like it or not.  Don’t you think they should be principles you are proud to represent.

Has being a good liar become a prerequisite, along with proficiency in Photoshop and a college degree, for employment? Is sticking to your principles worth losing your job over?  More importantly, is it worth being reincarnated as a dung beetle? It seems fitting when you spend a lifetime peddling shit, that you should have to spend the next one eating and repurposing it.

What happened to ethics and morality? How, in a country populated by self confessed Christians, do we live in such a dishonest society? Maybe we have become so good at deceiving others it turns out we are lying to ourselves most of all. We need to each take ownership and be responsible for holding one another, the companies we choose to work for and consume from, to a higher set of ethics and standards.

Our lives seem to be devoted to screwing over each other. We need lawyers and ten page contracts for simple deals once done over a handshake. What happened to integrity and accountability when a person could be proud of their work? We are all so jaded from life not being fair, but if we continue to keep working against each other it never will be.

There has to be some other reason to work, to get up in the morning besides money. 

It’s no wonder there seems to be an overwhelming number of people feeling an emptiness inside, striving to fill that hole with drugs, sex, and reality TV.  You may not be able to sleep under your integrity, but your bank account will never hug you back. The accumulations of zeros on a paycheck will never replicate the inner self-worth that occurs from being truly selfless, and putting someone else’s needs above your own.  If you are only serving yourself, you are one person against seven billion. If we are all for each other its 6,999,999,999 for one, and I will take those odds any day.


As changing human nature may be a bit of an ambitious challenge, maybe the answer lies in exploiting our natural tendencies to be selfish.

Shifting the focus from material selfishness to karmic selfishness and becoming so self-involved, so worried about our own personal karma, that we have no choice but to always do the right thing and any deviation would be considered unthinkable.

We have let ourselves off the hook one time too many, given into the pack mentality that thinks if we don’t do it, somebody else will happily take our place.

Battling back from a recession, many people learned that no matter how great of a businessman or woman you may be, you are always expendable to the greater good of the company and could end up paying for karmic crimes alone and uninsured. Or, if you believe in the non-secular sentiment, rotting in hell quite rightly, where we belong.  Is that system really working out so well for you?

My advice in closing, be (karmically) selfish and always do the right thing. If you want to be sure what the right thing to do is, you can rest assured it will always be the harder choice.


Editor: Cassie Smith


 Melissa Coetzee: There is nothing simple about me, I am a complicated girl just trying to find her way in this crazy world.  I am an activist for social change and feel the winds of change blowing in the air as we speak. I believe the world is flawed and the world is perfect in a complicated paradox. Being a contradiction in terms myself that makes me a perfect fit for this place we all call home. This year is dedicated to the global photo project entitled The Final Partywhich you can find out more about at www.creativelyinformed.com or on twitter @Cr8tivly.

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