The era of wealth awareness: how it impacts sustainability today Vol:6


The concept of wealth awareness was introduced by Richard Barrett, a renowned expert in the field of cultural transformation and values-based leadership. This worldview emerged in the late 15th and early 16th centuries when the European powers began exploring distant lands to build trading empires and create wealth. This worldview led to the separation of people into communities stratified by income, with Gross National Income per capita (GNI) becoming the defining measure of progress. This blog post explores the impact of wealth awareness on sustainability and how it shapes our current governance systems, societal structures, and individual behaviours.

The origins of wealth awareness

The worldview of wealth awareness emerged during the period of European colonialism and exploration, with a focus on wealth creation through empire building. The governance structures of nations shifted from the absolute power of monarchs or religious leaders to constitutional monarchies, with elected representatives of the people gradually gaining more power. During this era, the power of the aristocracy declined, and the concept of democracy took root. The justice system was significantly revamped, with the number of offences punishable by death being reduced, and court proceedings becoming more efficient. Incarceration became the primary mode of punishment, and torture was considered an acceptable method of extracting the truth in crimes of treason.

Impact on governance and politics

In the worldview of wealth awareness, governance systems tend to be polarized, combative, and based on the principle of winner takes all. The rich and powerful try to influence political decision-making through bribery, and corruption is tolerated if it remains in the shadows. The poor and disadvantaged, as well as the environment, seldom win out in nations dominated by the worldview of wealth awareness. The focus of education is to prepare people to compete in the world of work, with reading, writing, arithmetic, and science prioritized in schools. Political parties are aligned with the needs of specific subgroups, such as owners of industry and business versus workers, or the rich versus the poor.

Impact on society and individual behaviours

The impact of wealth awareness on society is reflected in the breakdown of neighborliness and connectedness, with municipal planning agencies segregating people into housing areas based on income. Families socialize less often, and friends meet less frequently, resulting in an increase in stress and mental disorders. Women continue to be discriminated against, with their work undervalued and not paid the same as men. Women frequently come up against a glass ceiling and are barred from upper management in business and politics. The transition from wealth awareness to people awareness is being driven by citizens who want their governments to end discrimination in all forms, eliminate financial inequalities, and provide social welfare and safety nets for all.

Cosmology of wealth awareness

In the worldview of wealth awareness, science replaced religion as the dominant cosmology, with healing through medicine rather than prayer becoming the norm. The cosmology of religion based on one ‘true’ God was replaced by the cosmology of science, which has no god or divine creator, provider, soul, or other dimensions of existence. The soul as a dimension of psychology was gradually replaced by a focus on behaviours. The worldview of wealth awareness corresponds to the differentiating stage of psychological development, with a focus on recognition through wealth and knowledge.

Moving towards a sustainable future with wealth awareness

The concept of wealth awareness, as proposed by Richard Barrett, provides us with a historical perspective on how the worldview of money, wealth, and power has shaped our societies, governance structures, and even our cosmology. While the wealth awareness worldview has brought many benefits and advancements, such as scientific progress and democratic governance, it has also contributed to increasing inequality, environmental degradation, and a loss of social capital.

To create a sustainable future, we need to move beyond the wealth awareness worldview and embrace a new worldview that focuses on the well-being of people and the planet. This is where the concept of people awareness comes in. People awareness is a worldview that prioritizes social justice, equality, and environmental sustainability.

The transition from wealth awareness to people awareness requires a shift in mindset and values. We need to move from a focus on individualism and competition to a focus on collaboration and cooperation. We need to prioritize the well-being of people and the planet over the pursuit of wealth and power. We need to recognize the interconnectedness of all living beings and work towards a future that benefits everyone.


The concept of wealth awareness is an important historical perspective that helps us understand how our current worldview has been shaped by the pursuit of wealth and power. However, if we want to create a sustainable future, we need to move beyond this worldview and embrace a new worldview that prioritizes social justice, equality, and environmental sustainability. By doing so, we can create a future that benefits everyone and ensures the long-term well-being of our planet.

Examples of wealth awareness dominance throughout history and across the world

  1. European Colonialism: The period of European colonialism, from the 16th to the 20th century, is a prime example of wealth awareness dominance. The European powers colonized and exploited countries in Africa, Asia, and the Americas for their resources and wealth, often using brutal methods to maintain control.
  2. Feudalism: The feudal system that existed in medieval Europe was based on wealth and power. The nobility owned the land and controlled the peasants who worked it, with wealth and status determined by birthright.
  3. Caste system in India: The caste system in India is another example of wealth awareness dominance. It is a hierarchical system in which people are born into a specific caste, which determines their social status and opportunities in life.
  4. Capitalism: In capitalist societies, wealth is a primary measure of success and power. The accumulation of wealth is the driving force behind business and economic growth, often leading to income inequality and social stratification.
  5. Modern politics: In modern politics, the influence of money and wealth is often seen as a determining factor in the success of political candidates and the policies that are enacted. Wealthy individuals and corporations are able to use their resources to influence elections and shape public policy in their favor.

Overall, the dominance of wealth awareness has had a profound impact on societies throughout history and continues to shape our world today.

Disclaimer: This article provides general information, which may or may not be correct, complete or current at the time of reading. No recipients of content from this site should act on the basis of content of the article without seeking appropriate legal advice or other professional counselling.

Table of Contents