Friday, October 17, 2008

Why, Why, Why?

I have been caught out!! This is a sort of confession – I followed a politically correct course of action and not only disappointed a customer, but in effect lied to him! I did it to cover my backside and to avoid an (expected) unpleasant confrontation with a third party – money being the crux of the entire episode.

This matter, in fact rather pretty – except for the person lied to – has left an unpleasant taste which lingers. It cannot be washed away. It has shown me, to me, for what I am and I am disappointed with my actions, also humiliated and somehow diminished in my own eyes.

Here am I through this blog, my articles written for Evan Carmichael, and the messages of guidance and help offered on my website, trying to encourage and disseminate an ethical approach to Life and I go and trip myself up!! I know that this is not a huge deal, nor is the sky going to fall in but it is just surprising how quickly and how easily years of study and years of practice can turn to dust. I now find myself having to eat my own words. They don’t taste very nice!

As to why I did it? Well I suppose it was because I saw some advantage, to me, in doing what I did. I avoided what I thought to myself would be an unpleasant confrontation. Also it was a split second thing – nothing premeditated. That was the cause. Now I have to live with the effect, the consequences of not telling the truth, of not accepting responsibility for my actions. The other person can think what he likes – that is his problem, but I have to live with myself, with my thoughts.

‘Hoisted by my own petard’, I think the saying goes! This has shown me that I can never let my guard down; that in dealing with people I can never be too careful.

This leads quite naturally on to what I really wanted to write about – why we resort to anger and violence when our ideas of how ‘our’ world should be, are opposed by others.

No matter how you determine the age of the world, or how long humans have existed, we have been around now for quite a while. Why is it then that we have such great difficulty in living peaceably with each other, as individuals and as nations? One would hope (in vain it seems) that after 5 million years of human existence (from an evolutionary view), we would have worked out a better way of settling our differences than killing each other. But no, not a hope. I am baffled as to what people hope to achieve when they kill someone – what long term benefit. From an ethical point of view it just does not make any sense. It is completely outside my way of thinking. It seems that we always take the easy option whether or not it is the best one. It is often quicker and easier to kill someone than to reason with them.

It has been a repeated refrain of mine that we only ever do anything if we see some advantage to us. Otherwise why do it? So, following this assumption, someone will be killed or injured to gain some advantage for the perpetrator, whereas talking it over or negotiating a ‘settlement’ may be perceived as weak or unsatisfactory.

I am thinking particularly about the current fracas between Thailand and Cambodia over a tiny sliver of land on their common border, which each claims as theirs. The supreme irony is that on this land is an ancient temple; a place of worship; a place of God. Yet armies have been mobilised, shots fired and people have died. All this to claim ‘ownership’ of a structure built to honour God!

Fortunately good sense has prevailed (I suspect because Thailand’s revered King has ‘lent’ on someone) and the opposing military leaders are now talking to each other. Good on them.

Would that such good sense had prevailed before the Iraq war; before the troubles in East Timor; before the tragedy in Darfur; in fact before any conflict you can think of. No one gains anything. The innocent always lose in any conflict. Ultimately, because of the (unwritten) law of cause and effect, even the instigators of any conflict lose. So why start in the first place?

People have forgotten about the importance of ethical behaviour. Without ethics greed and power take over and we all suffer. People forget the absolute necessity of treating other people the way you would like to be treated. This may be difficult to always carry out (see my opening comments!!) but it is necessary to always try.

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