Friday, January 11, 2013

What ails us ?

As we brace ourselves for yet another march - apparently to save us from everything that ails us - it is perhaps a good time to reflect on what exactly ails us in the first place.

Those who deal with puzzles and conundrums will readily concede that the most difficult step is often to define the problem correctly. Once you have formulated the problem, the solution often becomes self evident.

In our case, defining the problem is even more tricky because everyone wants his own problem solved first. So there are multiple competing versions of what our real problem is, and nearly all of them are unsatisfactory.

I will submit that selfishness is increasingly our core problem.

We all want - and I readily include myself - our particular version of the problem solved, and very few (nobody?) has the patience and the grace to let someone else go first. When you combine impatience and arrogance in the mix, it is a dangerous brew indeed. Impatient to be heard, selfish to the problems of others and too arrogant to even admit the possibility that we may be wrong.

And that's where the pseudo leaders come from. Even as we deplore them or joke about them, we are willing to go along with them as long as they solve a part of our version of the problem, even at the expense of everyone else. And then another one comes along making the same promise to another group, and another. They do not exist in a vaccum - it is our own limited, selfish needs which give them the space to sprout.

One day we are just going to have to face the simple fact that our survival lies in getting along.

We have sufficient resources to fill everyone's needs, even most people's greed. But every time we make a short term decision to save some personal inconvenience, we are weakening the social contract within which we exist; and one day when we've battered it completely out of shape, our selfish actions will come back to haunt us.

Patience, humility, generosity. These are the things that hold societies together.

Fortunately, we still have sufficient people practicing these qualities - that is why we're surviving. But the numbers are dwindling. If enough of us can find the courage to reverse this trend I'm convinced that all our problems will start to fade away.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:48 PM

    Totally agreed with the writer. Very nicely mentioned the dichotomy exist in our society.