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KNOWING vs. BELIEVING

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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Sunday, 27 September 2015

#VW: LIARS, CHEATS AND POLLUTERS

I'm not sure why, after all these years, I am still surprised and disappointed when things turn out to be different from what I had assumed and from what they seem. How can it be that VW, a paragon of integrity and quality, can have shown its colors as a lying, cheating polluter in one of the biggest corporate scandals to visit us in recent times?

What would possess a company with such an incredible brand to behave in a way which simply shocks everyone's sense of moral decency? The facts are by now trite, so other than to say they have been pretending to the world that their diesel cars have far lower emission levels than they actually have, and they have done this by way of the use of sophisticated cheating software, I shan't discuss the detail of what they have done.

More importantly, what were they thinking? Is the deadly sin of greed the motivation for that of deceit? One has to think so, but surely with all the grey matter that sits on the executive of VW it might have occurred to someone that:

  • What they were doing was dishonest
  • They might be found out
  • The discovery would ruin the company
  • Overnight they and Volkswagen would become pariahs when they were discovered
  • What they were doing may have been earning them greater profits, but they were helping f*ck up the world for generations to come, including for their own children and grandchildren
It's that last piece that gets me. People chop down rain forests, pollute, destroy the environment, pay bribes for soccer tournaments and shoot wildlife for sport all in the name of greed or ego. And when someone finds out, the default position is to become even more deceitful and pretend they didn't know or didn't do it. 

Somewhere in every action like that is an in congruence, a denial of people's fundamental selves as authentic, caring and loving beings which is nothing short of tragic.


Saturday, 19 September 2015

JUDGING FISH

Our beloved power utility, #Eskom, gave itself a self-congratulatory pat on the back recently for having generated an uninterrupted power supply for 5 weeks. As the local political rabble-rousers, the #EFF said in response: 'There is no need to congratulate a fish for being able to swim.'

And that seems to be so for all of our endeavours. If we are simply doing our jobs, but no more, or not cheating in our relationships, or feeding ourselves sensibly, or being kind to others or caring for our children, we do not need special praise or accolades. That is simply what we do and are expected to do.

It is only when we do something extraordinary that people might be expected to sit up, take notice and perhaps give us a high five. 

So if you're doing your job and want to complain that no one notices or acknowledges you, before you take the moan any further, perhaps it's worth questioning whether you are just doing what you've been told to do, or whether you are actually going the extra mile.

And whilst we're on the subject of fish, Albert Einstein is credited with the quote that "Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish on its ability to climb trees, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid". As it happens, the Mangrove Killifish can apparently climb trees, so perhaps that is at least one particular fish of which we should be taking closer notice. 

On the other hand, if you were to judge Eskom for its inability to produce power on an uninterrupted basis, perhaps it will rightfully keep believing that it is stupid until it gets its act together.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

WHEN THERE'S WATER COMING UNDER THE SHOWER DOOR

If I see water coming from under the shower door and running down the passage, the first thing I do is find the source of the water and switch it off. Then I start mopping up. If I just mop without switching off the water, I am going to keep mopping indefinitely. Sounds trite, doesn't it?

So why, I ask myself, is everyone in Europe trying to soak up the deluge of incoming Syrian refugees, but not taking more seriously what is happening in Syria, to try and stop the exodus and have Syrians stay at home?

Yes, I know it's complicated, but somehow I would expect a greater level of intervention from Arabs and the West within Syria to stop the atrocities there and make the place habitable. The Finnish Prime Minister, bless his heart, has offered his personal home to refugees. Why should he have to do that? And, quite frankly, no matter how big his house may be it certainly isn't going to fix the problem. Anyway, why should anyone have to take on hoards of displaced people? I guess it's good neighbourliness, morally right and so on, but my guess is the displaced Syrians would rather be in their own homes if they and their families weren't at serious risk of death, disease and worse.

And it's not just about switching off the source of refugees. Water under the shower door can look like abuse coming your way, over and over. You can keep on cleaning it up, or you can do something about switching off your abuser's torrent, like cutting him or her out of your life.

It's not always easy to switch off the source of any leak or flood, but if you don't do so, expect to keep on mopping to the point of exhaustion.