Its been some time since my last post I apologise for this. In any case, let’s welcome the Chinese New Year with this meaningful article from Rafael Alunan published today in Businessworld.
January 27, 2014
We can be much better than this
“KEEP YOUR thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” — Mahatma Gandhi
The Seven Social Sins, sometimes called the Seven Blunders of the World, is a list that Mahatma Gandhi published in his newspaper, Young India, sometime in 1925. Gandhi gave this list to his grandson, Arun, on a piece of paper on their final day together shortly before he was assassinated. The seven sins or blunders are:
• Wealth Without Work
• Pleasure Without Conscience
• Knowledge Without Character
• Commerce Without Morality
• Science Without Humanity
• Religion Without Sacrifice
• Politics Without Principle
I read through Arun’s explanation of the seven deadly social sins, courtesy of the Gandhi Institute, and wielded the power of the pen to liberally paraphrase and inject my own thoughts about the way we are and what we could become if we tried.
WEALTH WITHOUT WORK
This is the practice of getting something for nothing. There are professions built around creating wealth without assuming any risk or responsibility, e.g. manipulating the stock market, gambling, sweatshop slavery; exorbitant compensation disproportionate to the work they do. The financial crashes spawned by that insidious culture reverberated worldwide like weapons of mass destruction.
Watch The Wolf of Wall Street to get a glimpse of how greed and fraud conspire to make a few people rich beyond belief at the expense of many.
With the culture of unbridled capitalism and materialism spreading unchecked around the world, the gap between an honest day’s work and free riders on the talent, sweat and struggles of others is widening.
PLEASURE WITHOUT CONSCIENCE
This is connected to wealth without work. People find imaginative and dangerous ways of bringing excitement to their otherwise dull lives. The proliferation of drugs, gang rapes, wanton sex, and mindless thrill-seeking cause avoidable consequences — i.e. suicides, abortions and permanent disabilities — that ultimately levy heavy psychosocial, moral and financial costs on government and society. Living a life of selfless service and exercising self-control remains society’s challenge to surmount the culture of self-gratification.
KNOWLEDGE WITHOUT CHARACTER
As dangerous as a little knowledge is, even more dangerous is much knowledge without a strong, principled character. How many brilliant politicians have we elected who only used their intellect to fool the people and ruin the country for self-gain? It indicts our state of education where emphasis is on exclusivity and self-advancement rather than on inclusivity and developing the “total person” to serve humanity.
When the world’s 85 richest people own as much as 50% of the wealth compared to the world’s seven-billion population, what kind of obscenity is that? An education that ignores ethics and character building is incomplete. Government capture by vested interests, feudalistic practices, financial control, and political dynasties deprive society of opportunities to grow, develop and win their future. We can reverse this by restoring ethics and character building in the education of the “total person” at home, school and the workplace.
COMMERCE WITHOUT MORALITY
Price manipulation, fake products, smuggling, prostitution, tax evasion, slave labor and false claims are some examples. When profit becomes the most important aspect of business, morals and ethics are swept aside. Without a stewardship culture, people don’t matter, only profits. And the absence of enforcement guarantees impunity.
Stephen Covey says this: “In his book Moral Sentiment, Adam Smith explained how a moral foundation is essential to the success of our systems: how we treat each other, the spirit of benevolence, service and contribution. To Smith, every business transaction is a moral challenge to ensure that both parties emerge equally content with the terms and process. Fairness must underpin the free enterprise system.”
SCIENCE WITHOUT HUMANITY
No other species on earth has wrought more destruction than man. He is his own worst enemy. When science becomes all technique or technology, it quickly pits man against his humanity. Failure to understand the higher human purposes that science and technology should strive to serve turns us into victims of our own technocracy. What the Nazis did to the Jews as guinea pigs in their concentration camps is the most graphic example of man’s inhumanity to man.
In the field of safety and security, we use science to secure our homes, neighborhoods, economic assets and countries. Yet, nuclear, chemical, biological and radiological weapons threaten, more than ever, the very existence of life on Earth. Technology-driven intelligence gathering silently invades our privacy and trumps civil liberties in the name of homeland security, the war on terror and transnational crime.
WORSHIP WITHOUT SACRIFICE
Many of us are very devout believers and make a tremendous public show of our worship. But if all that is not translated into our daily lives, prayers will have no meaning. We should relate this to three of Covey’s Seven Habits pertaining to how we relate to others — how we serve, sacrifice and contribute to their well-being. The call for win-win interdependency, empathy, and synergy require tremendous sacrifice.
True worship is not about the fervency and frequency of our daily prayers, but how we translate those prayers into a way of life. Gandhi believed that whatever labels we put on our faith — Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Muslim — all of us, ultimately, worship Truth because Truth is God. We must be true to His word and live our faith on a daily basis.
POLITICS WITHOUT PRINCIPLES
Gandhi said that politicians doom themselves when they abandon the pursuit of Truth. We are no strangers to that proverb. Politicians spend fortunes to create a superficial image to get voted into office. Political parties select candidates based on “winnability” (popularity, resources), rather than qualifications and desire to serve. Once elected, governance by publicity, while enriching themselves, undermine our institutions and slash our moral fabric in the process.
Politics has earned the reputation of being dirty because we allowed it to happen. Plunder, extortion, bribery and electoral fraud symbolize the dirt we’ve created and allowed to accumulate with impunity. The way out lies in recovering our moral moorings and demanding a high standard of behavior and performance from our public servants and us. Our future depends on our collective will to become an ethical society.
Surely, we can be a much better nation than what we are today. If we desire change, let’s start with self by bringing ourselves from bad to good, from good to better, and from better to best. So help us God.