I am Alright Jack!
Ships are, perhaps, the ultimate survival zone. Tiny areas of safety in a permanently hostile environment they imbue those who sail in them with a sense of their own fragility, an awareness of their own mortality and a need to define the imperatives that drive them. It is no surprise that they have given us one of the most memorable, persistent and contentious phrases of all time: http://goo.gl/xFhIio
. One that represents both a philosophy that has a basis in logic and an attitude that doesn’t.
To understand the contradiction and the reason it’s so important today we need to get back to basics. Psychological egoism (https://goo.gl/b4kvlR
) suggests that everything we do is motivated by self-interest, even altruism: http://goo.gl/NNMGQ0
Self-interest, perhaps, reaches an apex of sorts when it comes to the nation-state. After all, here’s an artificial entity, divorced of the pain/pleasure biological imperative, set up to maximize its own well-being because it perpetuates its existence and that of its internal systems and minimize anything that will produce stress upon those systems. Australia, of late, a country founded as a penal colony (http://goo.gl/ZDivCf
) has come under criticism for its treatment of those seeking refuge within its borders: http://goo.gl/xAJ1Dq
We are destined, perhaps, to repeat history by forgetting where we came from and, with time, assuming the trappings of that (or those) that we formerly detested. In the past war provided a regular shake up both at a political and socio-economic level and its natural attrition of human stock reorganized the social demographics and ensured that things did not long stay the same. The last world war and the power of our weapons has ensured that we no longer go down the path of all-out conflict, but the proliferation of ‘local’ conflict across the globe has now reached the point where one humanitarian crisis after another (https://goo.gl/U2PNRV
) begins to loom.
The uneasy truth is that in a global world there is no “local conflict”. The impact of what happens in one area can no longer be contained: http://goo.gl/OPMO3y
and what affects one state, sooner or later affects others (as the recent Greek crisis showed: http://goo.gl/LXOBPH
There is a paradox here that helps perhaps explain the difficult to understand “I am alright Jack!” response. While we can, intellectually, process an enormous amount of information and workout our place and presence in a global setting, as individuals we are best geared to be effective locally. The disconnect between our perception of what we can understand and our limited capacity to affect things leads to a compartmentalization effect. The dissonance becomes manageable only when it is compartmentalized, our responses as individuals fragmented.
There is a clarity we can understand in the approach that says “all others are different and everyone who is different is not like us”. It allows us to sit by and do little when unthinkable events unroll: http://goo.gl/YysPv8
. It paralyzes us when aggressive sentiments build up: https://goo.gl/ojydzM
. It leads to political grandstanding that feeds the frenzy: http://goo.gl/pukc12
and on a wider scale it brings us to this: http://goo.gl/U5npsf
- talk of indiscriminate targeting under the guise of legitimacy propagated by people whose own morality and honesty is suspect.
Melissa Fleming, having seen the humanitarian crisis close up paints a different, more human picture: https://goo.gl/YDoHyS
. The difference between her approach and that of, say Christie’s (http://goo.gl/pukc12
) lies in the understanding of the wider context of self-interest. When taken to a logical, long-term, extended conclusion creating greater security and equality with more opportunities and peace is something that ultimately benefits us all.
Even the coldest rationalist can imagine how the potential of human stock, now lost in deplorable conditions, could, given a chance, bloom into thinkers, philosophers, inventors, engineers whose thoughts and ideas would drive the 21st century world much like the global war refugees drove the 20th.
How do we do that? One answer perhaps may be found, unsurprisingly, in eleven simple rules for getting along in complex workplaces: http://goo.gl/jT0j
. On the principle that what works in one place can be made to work in others, they are perhaps an easy in. A guide we can apply that allows us to treat each other, first, as entities with rights that deserve respect which can then lead to a more finely tuned understanding of what it is that drives each of us, and then all of us together.
I hope you haven’t been remiss. As the last weekend of the summer rolls on, you should have coffee aplenty. Chocolate cake, croissants, cookies and chocolate ice-cream. Have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.