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A conversation is recounted in the book # Shantaram  in which the character, Khaderbhai, says: “There is no such thing as believing in #G...

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Saturday, 5 July 2014


Someone said to me that people aren't as upset by #poverty as they are by #inequality of #wealth. If you put equally poor people together they will get on relatively harmoniously, but if you put rich and poor together resentment will fester to the point of violence, robbery and sabotage.

However, the one brutal truth with which we must live is that there will always be inequality.  Life is just set up that way, and even if everyone in the world were to subscribe to the idea that we should somehow all be equal in wealth, it would simply not happen.

The thing with which I wrestle is whether there is any clear answer to how all of us in our unequal states should be with the inequality.  (I am focusing on inequality of wealth for the meantime, rather than sporting and other prowess.)  It is easy for me to say that I am at peace with and accept the fact that Bill Gates has more money than I am likely ever to have.  It is not quite as easy for my countrymen who have no electricity or flush toilets and must fetch water daily from a stream to say that they are at peace with me being better off than them.  Sure, we can put it all down to karma and say that the enlightened approach is to meditate and be in a state of acceptance: all will then be well.  I suspect that the enlightened approach comes easier to the wealthy and comfortable than the poor and miserable.

And yet the day to day reality remains the same, with low levels of employment and little hope of upliftment.

It is also easy to say that the wealthy must have compassion for the poor.  Although that may make the wealthy feel better about the wealth gap and a bit sanctimonious, feeling compassion for the poor won't necessarily put bread on their tables.

I'm not suggesting that we all need to start giving our fish to the poor, but if we could each find our own way to teach them to fish, perhaps we could start making a difference.

It's easy enough to say "not my problem", but as the whole country has seen from the recent platinum strike, the problem belongs to us all.

18 July will be Nelson Mandela day, when we are all invited to offer 67 minutes of service. This might be a good time to consider what you are planning to do with your 67 minutes.

Does anyone else feel bothered by this?  If so, what's your answer to inequality?

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