define our society
seems to me that the world is becoming more like a lunatic asylum every
day and not only are the inmates in control, but everyone else has locked
themselves in a padded cell with the tranquilliser pills, listening
to soothing music in the hope that it'll all go away!
While one half of
the world is trying to blow up the other half, those who aren't engaged
in war are trying to grab whatever they can and hold onto it before
someone else gets it.
From the comfort
of our armchairs, we watch the world dramas unfolding on TV every day.
Every day we watch
the latest exploits of Corporations - another third world country is
milked of their assets, another new "Get Rich Quick" scheme,
more people redundant from "downsizing" or "efficiencies".
Every day on TV
we see the latest atrocities by Fundamentalists (of whatever persuasion)
- more bombings, more "just" retributions, another ideology
is the "right way" today.
Every day on TV
we see corrupt politicians lining their pockets and looking after their
And every day on
TV we watch fiction and real-life dramas blending into one.
It's all just moving
wallpaper really - goes on somewhere else in the world and generally
doesn't affect the day to day lives of the millions who watch it. Statistics
show that we're more eager to know the latest eviction from the Big
Brother household or who scored the winning goal in the football match,
than why someone blew themselves up in an act of protest or what they
were protesting about.
It's not that we
don't care, we are right up there with good advise.
"Governments should put a stop to bombings/terrorism/drugs/abuse/..".
"Our government should stop giving away tax payers money to other
countries when we have people at home in need".
"It wasn't like this in my day, it's all the fault of drugs/sex/rock
"It wouldn't be happening if we all followed the good book".
"Let's nuke the b---ers and that'll be an end to it".
"Let's all sing Cum-ba-ya and clap our hands together".
"We should all go out and spend more money to boost the economy".
"If we got rid of all the scroungers and cheats, we wouldn't have
to pay half of the taxes".
"They should send all foreigners back to where they came from".
And so, on....
It's the "someone
else, someplace else" syndrome. It's someone else who is dishonest,
lazy, deranged, violent, greedy or following the wrong rule book. And,
it's all happening in some other country, or some other backyard.
But, where do we
draw the line on honesty or integrity anyway?
Is it OK to add
a couple of extra items to an insurance claim to bump up the value?
Well, after all the money we've paid in, it's only fair to get a bit
Or is it OK, given
an option to pay cash for something, to get it cheaper because you know
the workman isn't going to declare it and pay tax - the government screws
us for taxes on everything else, why not get a discount if we can?
Would you consider
it was your lucky day if a cashier didn't ring through an item in your
basket or gave you change for a ten when you only gave them a five?
Is it OK to phone
in sick because you don't feel like working today?
And maybe it's OK
to snap at our loved ones because we've had one of those frustrating
days when no matter how hard we tried, everything went wrong and everyone
wound us up.
Everybody does it,
right? To some degree or other. What we see on TV are just the ones
who do it on a much bigger scale.
So, if it's OK for
us to be less than fully honest in our daily transactions, how can we
complain about corrupt politicians? Can we complain about increasing
insurance premiums if we skim a bit extra for ourselves if we get a
chance? Can we complain about being short-changed if we accept other's
mistakes when it's in our favour? Can we complain about companies cooking
the books if we're happy to pay less for services without tax?
If we think it's
OK to cut the cake to our advantage in the small things, what would
we do given access to a bigger cake? Our governments, corporations and
institutions are a product of our own values - they are run according
to the value system that we ourselves follow.
And at what point
would our own frustrations make us feel justified in more violent acts
than being grizzly with the spouse and kids?
If we want something
different from the "grab what you can while it's going" world
that we live in, then we have to change the values that we uphold as
a society. We have to change our own values as individuals and we have
to pass on better values to the next generation.
The small things
matter, because one day, opportunity may just test our ability to be
honest with the big things.
(J Hargreaves - 13th Sept 2003)
Our individual values define our society - Hark.net.au