By Suma Varughese
Once we recognize that the world is one family, it is impossible to operate on the basis of naked self-interest
One of the most cheering pieces of good news that I have heard of late is the peace initiative run by a leading newspaper house. The newspaper house has tied up with a leading publishing house in Pakistan to bring the two countries together. With laudable good sense they have urged us as citizens to take the lead in soldering peace between the nations and not leave it to the likes of the politicians.
In this context, I am always astonished by the general belief that foreign or national policy or even how one relates at the work front has to be different from the way we conduct our personal lives. I know of people who consider it natural to lie or manipulate at the work front and who believe that national and foreign policies must reflect self-interest.
Really? Suppose we were to base our roles as parents on this principle? So if a baby cries at night, we don�t get up because it is not in our interest to forfeit sleep. And if there is not enough to go around, then we let our kids go hungry because how can it be in our self-interest to let go of the little food we have? Would this work? And the sorry state of the world tells us that this principle does not work either at the work front or at the level of nations either. Self-interest on both the parts of the employer and the employee have killed that old-fashioned virtue called loyalty. Today, the employee is out to get the biggest pay packet he can get, and the devil take the rest, while the employer only wants to squeeze the juice out of the employee for as long as he can before throwing him out like a used orange rind. Who knows how many heart attacks and bouts of depressions such a policy has created in the corporate world? The consequences are far more devastating at the world level. Wars are fought on the basis of naked self-interest and opportunism. All the cruel injustices of groaning plenty on one side of the spectrum and gaunt hunger on the other side are because of self-interest. Soaring prices of food and vegetables one one hand, and farmer suicides on the other are because of self-interest. All the squabbles we witnessed at Copenhagen recently is because of self-interest.
As long as we stay trapped in self-interest, we will never rise out of the narrow and negative cycle of conflict and competition. If we want a world in which we can feel safe, secure, valued and at peace, we need to craft creative and spiritual solutions to our dilemmas.
All we need to do is align ourselves to the fundamental truth of the universe which is that we are one. At the deepest level we are interconnected and therefore any conflict or strife anywhere in the universe is bound to ricochet on us.
Ultimately all we need to cultivate right relations in the world is to follow the old Vedic truth, Vasudaiva kuttumbakkam. The world is one family and therefore the only legitimate way to conduct ourselves even at the workplace or in society is as members of a family.
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