I guess every country has its problems, but we all tend to think our own country has the most issues of all. I live in South Africa and although I am fully aware of the challenges that other regions are facing, it somehow feels that we have the biggest problems. Maybe it is because I am confronted with them every day. Maybe it is because I feel responsible for doing something about it.
Persistent problems cannot be solved with the same tools that created it
What I am sure about is that our insistence to solve problems on an economic or political level is failing. In fact, I feel it is failing all around the world. We created our world using economic and political principles (some might call them ideologies). Every time we face some sort of crisis we try to find a political or economic solution, arrogantly assuming that all troubles have a political or economic cause. All it brought us is a world barely sticking together, always threatening to tear apart.
The present global challenges have shown that our persistent troubles cannot be solved by these two overused instruments. Just look at the Arab Spring: Popular revolution overthrew a political regime, only to be replaced by another disappointing political regime. Egypt’s Spring Revolution now coincides with its seasonal cousin, with violent protests flaring up at least once per year. In Africa, we are so used to one corrupt leader being replaced by the next (often more) corrupt leader that we have accepted this as the status quo. On the economic front, we don’t have to look further than the crisis in the US and Europe to see that pure economics is not providing the answer.
It is time we all think seriously about the real causes of poverty, income inequality, violent crime, corruption and ineffectual government. The real causes do not lie in human-created concepts such as politics or economics, but rather human-existential experiences such as greed, hatred, arrogance, envy, selfishness, manipulation, depression, helplessness and apathy. Conjuring political and economic solutions only address the effects of our troubles, not the causes.
If we are all serious about changing the world for the better, it is time we stop blaming the custodians of our political and economic realities – government or business. Our political and business leaders are merely by-products of the values we promote within our communities. We create our own leaders. The behaviour of our leaders simply reflect our own day-to-day behaviour. If we really want to solve our problems, we need to start changing your own behaviour and the behaviour of those immediately around us. By changing our communities now, we will change the kind of leaders we get in future.
Maybe it is time for us to look beyond economics and politics. Maybe the problem lays not so much ‘out there’ but more ‘in here’, inside all of us.
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