It's time to redefine "better" - Kathy Varol

It’s time to redefine “better”


If you’re like most people, you want your kids to have a better life than you. This dream for “better” is intertwined with our belief in human progress. Better is the reward for your personal sacrifices and hard work.

In the past, better meant more money. Money is the way we value the importance of a country (GDP: gross domestic product). Money is the way we value the success of a company (revenue). Money is the way we value the importance of an individual (assets).

If we’re being honest, the sole focus on money has caused some wonky side effects. Everyone’s personal sacrifices and hard work is creating more money, but most of that money is held by the top 1% of earners in the world. There are many reasons for this, here I’ll just mention one. One reason that CEO’s are getting paid more is because of their power to set pay. CEO compensation has grown 940% since 1978, while typical worker compensation has risen only 12% during that time (78 times LESS growth). The average CEO-to-worker pay ratio of S&P 500 companies was 264-to-1 in 2019.

You let someone control the size of everyone’s cookie jar, and suddenly they have a huge belly with chocolate smeared across their face.

It’s time to redefine “better”.

While money is important, each one of us knows from our own lived experience that money isn’t everything. Money doesn’t encompass what’s needed to make individuals happy, societies healthy, and the planet thriving. To be fair, these things are harder to measure than cold hard cash. But harder to measure doesn’t mean we should ignore their importance.

Once we define what “better” means, we can build a path to get there.

To me, “better” means clean water, clean air, thriving biodiversity, peaceful nations, racial equality, safe communities, individual dignity, and (to quote the Declaration of Independence) the preservation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

To me, a better world means this inheritance is for everyone. Not just a few. These are foundations that cannot be divided unequally. It’s all or nothing. You can’t build your better on someone else’s worse. You can’t have clean air for just a few. You can’t have clean oceans for just a few. You can’t have world peace for just a few. You can’t have individual dignity if you treat others with indignity.

It’s time to start living better, leaving better, and passing on better.

Let’s leave the world better than we found it.

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