16.08: Are we becoming a society of materialistic fanatics?
The rampant corruption and the blatant inequity that assault us in our current socioeconomic system are symptoms of the materialistic fanaticism that is afflicting humanity today. Just as religious fanatics care for nothing and no one except their twisted religious beliefs, materialist fanatics care for nothing and no one except their materialistic agendas for self-aggrandizement. The Bhagavad-gita (16.13-15) outlines the psychology of such materialistic zealots who have no hesitation to slaughter their own morality and even the lives of other people on the altar of their materialism.
The sixteenth chapter of the Gita is chillingly reminiscent of the cold-blooded manipulation, exploitation and destruction of enemies that comprise the driving agendas of many of today’s financial barons. The Gita prefaces this description by the fundamental misconception that is at the root of their heartless and horrendous materialism. Gita (16.8-9) describes their non-spiritual, even anti-spiritual, worldview that denies the existence of God and the soul. Because they conveniently dismiss out of existence the spiritual dimension of life, no control valve is left to check their untrammeled materialism; their religious pretensions, if any, are just a utilitarian mask (16.17) .
The Gita, however, doesn’t leave us feeling helpless about this all-devouring materialism. The sixteenth chapter of the Gita concludes (16.24) with a confidence-boosting and direction-providing call for a return to scripture-based balance of material and spiritual values. Individually each one of us has the power to attain and sustain that balance, thereby protecting ourselves from becoming victims-cum-participants in the materialistic mess around us. And collectively all of us can set the example and share the word that can inspire many others to free humanity from the stranglehold of materialism.