{March, 1985, Adview Magazine}


It is sometimes easy to spot a conflict of interests. It is easy to see that the president of a large corporation has interests that conflict with the interests of a janitor employed by that corporation. But sometimes a conflict is not so obvious.


A less obvious conflict of interests may arise within one's own individual life. Each one of us has conflicting interests because we belong to numerous interest groups.


We all probably know someone who is at the same time a farmer, a church member, a taxpayer, a parent of children attending college, and a stockholder in a large corporation -- the list could go on almost indefinitely. The groups composed of farmers, church members, and so on have interests special to them and frequently in conflict with the interests of other groups, and yet one person can belong to all of those groups.


But now look again at the company president and the janitor. Despite the fact that one is the master and the other is the servant, both of them may well belong to a church, pay taxes, have children attending college, and own stock in the company they work for. Their interests do not really conflict as much as we thought.


Observe also that our membership in various groups can change rapidly. One day we can be farmers and the next day retirees. Our children in college soon graduate. We sell our stock and invest in timber. We join other groups whose interests might be in conflict with the groups we just left.


And do not overlook the fact that our friends and relatives and, even, our own children may belong to groups whose interests conflict with ours. Our college graduate may become the manager of the factory that produces the acid rain that destroys our timber.


We are all members of a moral community one interest of which is fairness. But sometimes we become so wrapped up in our own special interests that we forget that we have a moral interest in the fair treatment of all individuals and all groups. We forget that the policies we advocate today may hurt us or our children tomorrow.


Now let's get specific. When we cut the federal budget, who do we hurt? Whose interests do we consider? Farmers, parents of college students, stockholders?


If we proceed to cut the budget in the light of the variety of interests we all have, the transitory nature of our interests, and the interest we have in seeing that all are treated fairly, we will make cuts simply because they need to be made. We will not consider special interests. We may, in the short run, hurt ourselves. But we will forever live with the calm assurance that, when all is said and done, our interests are one.




   -Contact Me-



We all see things in different ways. Help me to see things your way. I welcome  your questions and comments.   


    --- Jesse Shearin





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