This article: Dubai's Lesson to America: How the Middle East's Shangrai La Became a Hell on Earth, by Johann Hari of The Independent pains a disturbing picture.

Is this what will happen (what could have happened) to Australia, the US and Europe if the drive for ever-increasing profits is allowed to take precedence over all other considerations?

Will the Western world, or even China, end up living in such a world if we were to let the constant strive to grow the bottom line above all else, the unthinking belief in big-is-always-better, the disconnected view of business as being a separate activity unrelated to life, and other such myopic economic dogma to remain untempered by any shred of humanity?

Like any religion, the Church of Endless Profits exhibits these common human behaviours – fear, control, and denial.

Fear is the underlying driver. Control and denial are driven from this basis of fear. The fear of loss (of lifestyle, of possessions and riches, of pride), the fear of criticism (shame, having your wrongs revealed), the fear of looking slightly beyond immediate comforts, the fear of awareness of the bigger picture and of self (which then may demand the taking of personal responsibility, and acting in accordance with one’s conscience), the fear of understanding, the fear of sharing, the fear of being truly human and alive.

So what are the factors currently stopping countries like Australia and the US from falling into such a state? There’s a higher level of literacy and awareness. There are more avenues for the counter-status-quo voices to be heard. The media is relatively freer. There are laws in place to prevent blatant exploitation. People are more willing to stand up and say or do something…

But the balance is delicate. These values can all to easily be eroded or forgotten. Like the Dutch woman in the article who simply chose not to see the issues. If we lose vigilance and take things too much for granted, we could end up creating such a hollow nirvana.

Our individual action counts. Especially by those who lead businesses. Businesses can choose to operate ethically and morally. Which would you choose? Participate in slavery or short-term profits?