Monday, January 11, 2010

To Mari Marcel: the conscience is the hands of the people

A couple of months go, I read Raging Against The Machine, the New Internationalist's compilation of shorts and essays that have been published over the past 30-years in its thought-provoking, politically-charged, independent magazine. The content is emotional and at times, disturbing, because it is all true: the Man working against the people, leaving them in financial and physical ruin.

One article that stood out was written by Mari Marcel Thekaekara called, Where has all he conscience gone? In it, she questions the path that international development has taken. She argues that what once was barely recognized as a reputable profession has become a career of glamorous travel and 5-star hotels. I don't disagree. The ID students that I met in university wore 5-inch heels to class and sported the latest Dior sunglasses, their $3,000 word-processors in hand, cruising facebook between boring interjections of intellect.

Indeed, what did happen to international development?

Well, it became a business. The Corporations capitalized on the human condition of compassion. We no longer have bare-foot basic-essentialists running through "Third World" countries, nails torn, hair dirty, with a smile plastered over their faces. No. There seems to be more money in it than we thought. Now, development is about pushing papers, bureaucratic meetings, deals being dealt between unauthorized representatives of 'the cause'.

The reason it happened is simple: the game changed, but not the paradigm. The illusion of change came from a re-focusing of fiscal flow. Instead of investing in sweatshops, the almight and powerful invested in World Vision and Habitat For Humanity. With a facetious facade of altruism, the business and state were able to extract charitable donations to feed its never ending hunger of economic prosperity. This paradism did not change: it is still all about accumulation.

For development to have any actual effect, the paradigm needs to shift, permanently, from a culture of consuming and hoarding to a community of holistic sharing. We all need to realize that an individual's unique talents is a gift to the group. He or she should not be forced to do that which he or she is not good at. But, you are thinking, that person should work hard in order to reap any rewards. You see, you are not changing. Why does someone have to work his or her self to the ground in order to live? Is living really a privilege? If so, that we would have the absolute right to take it away from anyone who did not fall in line with a prescribed way of living. You only work 20 hours a week? Dead.

What is good for the individual is good for society, the only problem is that the current paradigm dictates that what is good is big houses, with a bank account to match and fast cars. If we shift those thoughts to a more organice, genuine sense of goodness, then we can change the system.

However, it is a two-way street. What is good for the group is also good for the individual. If everyone is healthy, educated and able to perform his or her specific task, how is the individual not benefitted?

Humans have created a parasictic ecosystem where they believe that success is measured from how well one person is doing. That person takes and takes, leeches resources from his or her surroundings, from the environment, from animals, from other PEOPLE, just to grow bigger and stronger. It kills its environment in the process. No sustainable ecosystem can exist like that.

Change the paradigm. Think about circles, the Kreb cycle, unity of body and mind, the cycle of rain, the circle of life, anything, really, to change the way you think.

Give, take, share, live. For the greater good.

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