In Charmides or Temperance, Plato wrote that "The part can never be well unless the whole is well." The corollary to this adage is also true; the whole can never be well unless the part is well.
The world is in crisis: the euro in Europe; US leadership is failing to resolve the vestiges of the subprime mortgage crisis; poverty persists in Africa with the backdrop of never-ending wars and the perpetual dearth in leadership; China once believed to be our economic saviour is experiencing a decreasing economic growth-rate; the Middle East though having succeeded with the Spring revolutions continues to be marred by the stand-off between Israel and Palestine...and Iran...and Syria...and now possibly Egypt; and the Island nation of Tuvalu is drowning due to the effects of Global Warming.
The crises never end.
Closer to home though, a great many more desperate situations persist(for the sake of space let us not list them). And through all the despair and despondancy and dread and direness(there are lots of terrible d-words) it has become apparent that ordinary individuals, people with God-given talents to look after themselves, have abdicated their responsibilty for finding solutions for our own problems to what we call leaders: the governments, non-profit organisation, philanthropists et cetera et cetera. While it would be easy to find someone to whom blame ought to be assigned, I find it best to follow the lyrics of a great Michael Jackson song, "lets start with the man in the mirror." The day we abdicated our personal responsibility to fewer hands such as those of governments' was the day we gave fewer people the right to find solutions to our problems. Leadership is not an abstract theory we assign to others so that we don't have to look after ourselves: its far from that; it means that the individual takes personal responsibility for the fulfilment and self-actualisation of our own dreams and ambitions. We should take personal responsibility for the way our own lives are run. The notion that "the government will save us", more commonly expressed as "the government is failing us" is merely the individual reneging on their responsibility. While one may concede that government has a responsibility that extends beyond that of an individual, it’s a cop-out to suggest that the individual ought to do nothing and government everything. What we do then is tacitly permit the continuous encroachment of the state in our personal lives. What we do then is accept that multi-national conglomerates can dictate to us the meaning and purpose of our own lives. What we do then is to accept that our children will be born into a world where because of our abdication of responsibility they cannot choose to dream about being doctors or artists or even president. What we do then is stop living, and are lived for.
The whole is not well. The part, us, therefore cannot be well either. We pass by the homeless in the streets and ask why the government isn't sorting the problem of rampant poverty out. We sit in front of the television with our young children yet ask what it is that is so wrong with our education system that our kids cannot read. We decry the perilous state of our society while we increasingly recede from ordinary life and live virtual ones. We say that there is something wrong with the whole world while we are a part of it. My high school vice-principal used to say, "The school is not the buildings and the beautiful fields. The school is all the people who attend it." Equally I say, the world is not the green trees and undulating hills. It is not the high mountains and deep seas. It is not the bright summer-night sky or starry dark winter night. The world is everyone who lives in it. And if the world is in crisis it is because we are in crisis.
The whole world is not well, the part must fix it.
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