Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Burden of Reponsibility lies with YOU

I am heart-sick. And I have a malady of the heart that is not curable through any conventional or non-conventional forms of medicine. The malaise that I am feeling is related to a sense of desperation that I feel about humanity today.

A desperation associated with witnessing the effect of fear, the fear of not having enough, of not being safe enough, of not having enough to eat, to feed ones family, to ride to work, to pay the bills. Of driving down our streets and witnessing besieged individuals struggling to make it through this existence that we call Life.

A desperation associated with witnessing the gross juxtaposition of immense wealth against a backdrop of equally immense poverty.

A desperation associated with witnessing the sometimes inhuman behaviour of human to human interaction.

A desperation associated with witnessing one individual’s determination to bring down another, because in doing so is the assumption that their survival will somehow be ensured.

A desperation associated with witnessing a distinct absence of fundamental and core values such as sanctity of life, honour, dignity and respect – values which would affirm our position on top of the ladder as the most evolved, intelligent species that inhabit this planet.

So I am heart-sick, and I am desperate. I am desperate because I wonder just how this world that we live in going to change. Change seems to be the new buzz word. EVERYONE wants change. Everyone wants things to be different. It is in the name of this change that we look to the future and to our leaders, in the hope that they will bring this about.

One thing this means, is that a lot of people are just not happy with the status quo. But if we were to take a survey of the general population, the list of ‘things’ that people want changed would probably be an endless one – each would put forward what they would feel to be the ‘fix’ for themselves – a new government would mean less rent to pay, another might say food would be cheaper, another may say that taxes would come down, another perhaps might add that infrastructure would improve.

Whatever the ‘thing’ that needs to be changed, it would all inevitably be entirely subjective, based on an individual’s assessment of what it would take to make life better for themselves.

If it is just about ‘fixes’, then we may as well throw in the towel, put our feet up, and wait for the world to burn. Given the current state of affairs, and with the current complete lack of basic human decency, there is no easy ‘fix’ that will help. Lets get this straight – THERE IS NO ONE LEADER OR SYSTEM THAT WILL FIX YOUR WORLD FOR YOU. Period. Fullstop. Understand this, digest it, internalize it.

No-one and nothing outside of you, not even your community, or your family, is going to be able to make things right. Not on their own merit, and not by existing as an island unto themselves. It is not going to matter how much money you have, or how many safe houses you have managed to build for yourselves, or how effectively you have planned for your future.

A decent future cannot be possible, if we do not start looking after the people around us.

A decent future cannot come about, if you continue to look out just for yourself, because nowhere on this planet anymore can you exist within your own carefully constructed fortress, and avoid interacting with the world around you.

The person begging on the street may not be your problem, and you may decide that he or she would be better off getting a job, but there are no such jobs available, because you have not bothered make education available him or her.

The people living in the slums may not be your problem now, but when the tyres start burning in your streets and you can’t even leave your house to go to the airport, they will very quickly, become YOUR problem.

You may decide that because you pay your staff, you have earned the right to treat them like your slaves and get the most out of them per shilling of pay, but when the tide turns, and your staff joins a mass movement and revolts against you, you will understand the fickle nature of your industry’s (or even your domestic) foundation quicker than you can imagine.

You may decide that the world’s hunger and poverty and misery are just not of your own making, but when you decide to leave where you are, and you escape to your foreign destination, you will realize there just isn’t any green grass left on the other side of the fence anymore. Its all gone – destroyed, burnt down and cleared away to make room for the rich and industrialized – all wanting to make more and more, at the expense of the very air that you breathe.

Whether you like it or not, CHANGE is going to have to start with YOU.

So let’s cut out the bullshit. Agreed – that you are doing the best that you can right now, with just trying to make your own ends meet. Agreed – that you are trying to do your best to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your family. All things considered, you’re a good citizen, you keep your head down, and you’re ‘doing your bit’.

Here’s the challenge – if you run a corporate organization and you treat you staff like shit, you’re NOT doing your bit. If you’re a senior person in that organization, and you do nothing to stop injustices in the workplace, then you’re NOT doing your bit.
If you’re part of an organization, and you refuse to work as a team player, looking out fro those that work with you in even small ways, you’re NOT doing your bit.

If you employ domestic staff and you couldn’t care less how they or their family eats, you’re NOT doing your bit.

If you know that the guy who guards your house all night, every night gets paid a pittance, yet you don’t even bother to acknowledge him or give him an occasional cup of tea to help him while away the night, you’re NOT doing your bit.

If you drive down the streets with your windows rolled up, and ignore or look down with disdain upon everyone that approaches you (not everyone’s out to get you by the way), and continue to propagate just how much you’re ‘better’ than the guy on the street, you’re NOT doing your bit.

If you continue to sit on your ass, and not get involved in community initiatives – ANY community initiatives, and then feel the need to rant about ‘just how bad things are in the country today’, you’re NOT doing your bit.

If you live in the ‘developed’ world, but you continue to harbour racist, classist, or bigoted notions, or if you insist upon remaining cultural secluded to ensure your ‘safety’, you’re not doing your bit.

If you live in the West, then you probably already think that you’re not safe anymore, whether from acts of religious extremism, or a volatile market. If you decide to continue to ignore what’s happening in the world around you, because it’s ‘out there’, think again. By ignoring the reality of the global situation, not trying to understand how the rest of the world functions, and perpetuating the myth of ‘West knows Best’, you’re NOT doing your bit.

If you have decided not to get involved in the lives of anyone around you, other than your nearest and dearest, then I am afraid my friend, that you might want to start to wonder about your fate when the shit hits the fan.

Not ONE thing mentioned above would reduce your personal resources by any significant amount, and it may not even particularly take too much of your time to act upon. It’s all about acting like a decent human being more often. The best part is that you don’t even have to wait for anyone or anything before you start.

Just enhancing dignity for example, has tremendous potential; if your primary goal is to preserve someone’s dignity, then automatically, any form of discrimination will fall away – you are now looking at this person in a totally different way and there would be no room for any sort of prejudice. Any perceived deficiency in another would immediately be acted upon, out of simple decency. Any bad behaviour would perhaps not even be considered, and you would probably employ more tolerance, acceptance, patience and general good manners before acting.
Now imagine, if EVERYONE were just to start behaving differently, and not even drastically, just a little here and a little there, what are the possibilities for Change that we can now envisage?

So change your mind set a little – whoever you are, wherever you are. Start with yourself, and then perhaps insist on the same from others – start by treating those around you with a little more dignity and respect, and then ensure that you get the same in return.

There simply is no excuse anymore for abhorrent behaviour and just plain, pathetic bad manners. IT STARTS WITH YOU – the rest is just details.