As I was sitting on Machiavelli’s lap, he whispered into my ear: the end justifies the means… any action, whether good or evil justifies itself if it belongs to an ideal set of strategies and tools used to fulfill a specific goal. Goals in turn are power-accumulation oriented. The ultimate purpose of power accumulation is to rule by means of virtu or composing a plan of action that secures the glory and reign of the ruler by moral or immoral means, depending on the situation. Machiavelli states that fear is always a more effective tool in comparison to love in controlling and maintaining order both within the state and in inter-state relationships.
General men are ungrateful, disloyal, insincere and deceitful, timid of danger and avid of profit…Love is a bond of obligation which these miserable creatures break whenever it suits them to do so; but fear holds them, fast by a dread of punishment that never passes…(Machiavelli, 1965)
Sounds harsh? Well, rightly so, Machiavelli saw the worst in people and for those of us that are too blind to consider the worst in people both privately and professionally are bound to learn it the hard way, through shocking and heart-braking experiences. Giving man trust is like giving them a loaded gun they can shoot you at any time. In general humans are calculated agenda pursuers that constantly weigh opportunities with costs and base their decisions on bettering their status, position and coming a step closer to their goal rather than choosing a course of action that is moral and fair to all parties.
Choosing a fair and moral course of action in turn is also a viable strategic choice in personal agenda pursuit- aggressive and evil actions are many times condemned by society and the person that behaves in this way automatically becomes an outcast. Don’t catch a sigh or relief just yet! In situations where immoral and evil acts are condemned social the individual becomes a lying hypocrite that outwardly adheres to social norms but inwardly pursues his agenda, manipulating others and setting a fake image to fulfill the ultimate goal of reaching a higher status.
We witness this in everyday business life (Enron and BP), politics (Cold war, corruption) and in our personal life (exploitative and hypocrite relationships); unfortunately selfishness is a predominant trait in the genetics among some of us inherited from ancestors that lived in misery, fought wars and died for both evil and just causes.
Machiavelli, such an acute observer of human nature misses out just one important element- spirituality, and the transformative role of spirituality that touches only some of us born with a pure and innocent heart. During the time when Machiavelli lived, as an advisor of the Florentine state, in the midst of the Renaissance, reason was dominating over religion- hence individuals were more open to question the role and legitimacy of the church. Machiavelli, himself was a great opponent of the church as an institution, seeing it as corruptive and power greedy.
In fact- we should never equate religion to spirituality, as religion can be a powerful mask hiding our true goals: ambition, greed, ego boost whose means of achieving these goals are not necessarily moral. Spirituality, in the contrary is a state of mind, a goodness based value that we are born with and choose to maintain overcoming base values. Spirituality is the ultimate maturity, accepting the world as is, acknowledging the good and the evil and choosing a higher road of progressing through belief in oneself, love toward the work that we do and choosing to surround ourselves with like-minded companions that in turn slowly gain our trust through consistent demonstration of their good-naturness over an infinite period of time.