Leadership in change

September 6, 2013

In a tough economy, or in a blame culture, it's easy, and maybe prevalent, to find the weakest link and point the finger, letting that person take the fall.  The media encourages that seemingly, but that's because we as an audience buy into it. Schauden freude.  But this seems such a crude emotion to indulge in that the question remains, what would need to happen for civilisation to progress further, moving past the I, me, my in life, past the gratification of wanting to succeed even at the expense of others.  Intellectually this drive could happen, and perhaps conditioning could make it a habit or erode the lower/negative drives.  There is the often-recited story of a group with no hands unable to feed themselves soup despite having spoons.  They achieve their goal by holding spoons in their mouths and feeding each other.  Maybe it is a need for group survival that may drive humans towards inner-driven generosity.  But how can such a drive for change happen for everyone at the same time?  Does it need to, or can one group or person start it?  Can one person lead such a big change?  


Gandhi did, in some ways.  But many still blame him for political naivety as the country was divided up upon independence.  Yet, without him, and those who supported him, perhaps there may not have been an independence, let alone one that the world will talk about for centuries as the greatest non-violent movement.  India was many kingdoms before colonisation by the British, so do critics even have a valid point?  Perhaps there will always be naysayers and the lesson is to progress regardless.  Many still wanted the slave trade to continue, but laws were passed and to some extent 'civilisation' prevailed in various countries in succession.  This does not mean that today there are no slaves.  We hear stories in the news about people made to work for free, in return for their keep.  Maybe this is human nature to some extent if payment is seen as deprivation of source resources, rather than a fair exchange for work.  


The West has outsourced much industry to the East and some of the conditions groups of workers suffer are not acceptable in the West any longer, but they continue because of margins and competition.  Remember, for example, that children used to be used as chimney sweeps, factory workers, cigarette rollers, etc., in the past in the West.  Child labour laws came in only in the 20th century. But elsewhere in the developing world, such laws, if existing, are not effectively enforced.  Nor are worker condition laws, and this is known in the West.  The question is, how this could be part of civilised society, once knowledge of the effect on others' lives are known?  Perhaps evolution of economy plays a part.  Perhaps evolution of people and their consumer power plays a part that drives the economy.  A wide-scale change in motivation can occur.  It is unimaginable now for a prisoner to be put to death by being hung, drawn and quartered.  It is, in fact, a challenge to imagine a time when this was acceptable.  Knowing what drove a change from that may enable recognition of the source of mass change in public opinion.

Shoppers can remain ignorant of, detached from or unaffected by the knowledge of worker conditions.  But there was a time when clothes were not seen as disposable by the masses.  Gandhi asked his country to boycott clothes made in England and to wear locally spun khadi.  Would this be needed or could human rights laws protect workers affected by adverse conditions.  And if they did, and companies paid more, margins became lower, what would that mean?  All companies would have to be affected by such laws as otherwise any loophole or alternative source of workers would arise.  Consumers, would need to make choices about what is acceptable and vote with their feet.  But whether this would happen is questionable.  Perhaps it is possible for decisions about civilised lives to come from within goods-providers.  Margins of some companies are massive and perhaps a slight reduction to improve outsourced staff welfare would still provide room for an economic advantage, as well as a civil one: a karma stamp advantage, so to speak.  Not one that pays only lip service.

Change has to be driven by people, within or outside of power sources.  Change itself is driven by new perspectives.  New perspectives come from realisation.  Realisation often needs reflection and silence to occur.  So starting there could be an idea. And maybe not leaving it too late.  We may not get it right first time...

Enjoy the videos! They're for entertainment and some thought.

 

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