In a world where politicians have their price and favour can be bought, litigation lurks around every corner and our worth is constantly measured, there is something that is without price. It is freely given and can be just as quickly and freely removed: Good will.
I paused to ponder just how much of what we see and do every day is eased by the sharing of this priceless notion.
The extra helpful customer service advisor, the train staff who stop to help with directions, the waiting staff who stay late to clear up after you. One could argue that they still get paid but, just for a moment, imagine the world in which:
I could go on and on and list the millions of ways in which our lives are enriched because of the goodness of others.
Instead, I will describe the erosion of good will.
It starts with an assumption. An assumption that people will do MORE for less. An assumption that no one will notice or say anything.
I watched an historical programme the other day about how Henry VIII added copper to silver coins to make the coffers stretch further. The coins eventually became worn, the copper showing through, and their worth eroded. Elizabeth I had to recall them all to the mint to have them revalued.
If you degrade the self-worth of those showing good will, you ultimately upset the balance of everything: economically and socially.
Every member of society starts out a shiny silver and they gleam brightly to display their worth. Their purpose is to be useful, to be part of the huge exchange that keeps the wheels of society turning.
When civil liberties, working conditions, living wages and safety are dismantled the tarnish sets in…..
People no longer display their full worth. Instead, they offer up a copper substitute. A work to rule, a malicious compliance, a strike. Their worth has been diminished to the point where there is little silver left.
We can all point to other jobs, other people and say, “they’re still doing their job!” But have they had the very substance of who they are rubbed away by greed and exploitation of good will? Or did they enter into an honest contract knowing their worth from the offset?
We are immensely lucky that so many people still see the value in this precious commodity of good will. We are lucky that the human spirit retains this at its core for many and they continue to give despite the detrimental impact on themselves.
But make no mistake. Our luck is running out. And so is good will.
And without it, we are all infinitely poorer.