Thinking as a Community, The Very First Lesson from the Virgin Economy                      

Take a random sample of 2/3 cultures from anywhere across the global divide, do some comparisons and you will be shocked at what different meanings are attached to a subject of your choice. This is not to say that cultures at times don’t share common values but rather that the existing stark perceptions have a lot to say about ourselves as human beings.

It doesn’t in fact hold that the concept in question is relatively obvious. Let’s take a child for instance, a ten months old being from kingdom animalia, and species homo sapiens to put it rather plainly. If he/she were to grow up amongst the Gandas of Central Uganda, he/she would be ably told and will grow to believe that it’s natural to take on their father’s clan by way of lineage with the exception of a king. But like the proverbial cat, if she/he was to have at least a second life and were to be born amongst the Musuo people of China the opposite would be undeniably true. She/he would actually find their life’s purpose in discovering who their father is if at all they were to take the matter too seriously.

Understanding this school of thought, it would not come as a surprise for anyone seeing the level of polarisation that surrounds some of the more contentious subjects of our time: Climatic change, Racial discrimination, Gender and Sexuality, Religion, name it. And this arguably is the biggest dilemma of modern economies. Back in the Virgin world, there was very limited contact thanks to the distance and information disconnect then there making the continued existence of contradictory narratives a non-issue.

Those were the times when it did not cost to tell a lie so long as members of your community believed it was true. Parents would in turn pass on the same to their children and so would the recipients when their time was ripe. Growth then stopped at community level far from what we see in the 21st Century. To be someone as it stands, one needs to add onto the same an appreciation of the dynamics of their country, the workings of their continent, as well as the cross roads in international relations. Of course this varies in degree depending on the country from which you hail.


The Mess begins

Still wondering how the mess begins? Simple, citizens A, B, and C all from Country X get stuck at different hierarchies of the equation as we know it so far. While A thinks globalization is the way to go, B and C would rather have him go hang if that is what it will take to achieve their nationalistic aspirations. Only that B believes that national is synonymous to her tribe breaking away to form an independent state. Somehow, the egos of all three will be tamed. This, however, may take a decade at the very least.

And before the economy settles to business as usual, some other annoying controversy will crop up, a debate on how to approach the arrival of refugees escaping a war in neighboring Country Y. In other instances, the populace may have to grapple with 3 or more such issues at the same time.

The division could get so divisive so as to have the modus operandi itself determine the very difference between life and death (Events following the Ebola crisis in West Africa are a good example. Stories are told of inhabitants in parts of Freetown, Sierra leone taking offence when doctors wouldn’t let them separate mother and fetus succumbing to the epidemic only because to them it meant that the fallen would be “left to wander endlessly in the eternal realm”).

How annoying, how time wasteful

You probably already agree by now that whatever we are talking about here is irritating. Sadly, it is also resource wasteful not for anything else but because trust and stability come somewhere at the top in the drive towards economic development. It would be foolhardy for instance to presume that an employee will work at full capacity while the future of their social security hungs in balance. Like our fore fathers, we ought to appreciate that for society to thrive we need to have a common ground on major aspects of life (read thinking as a community).

This then begs the question of how we are supposed to get out of here. Not that attempts have not been made before, only that there is less to show for it. And to this one thing is clear, it isn’t a simple task. The advent of global religions as a case in point show how an arguably promising experiment at the start got held up in rather murky waters only to wake up quite late. While they (religions) can’t up to now be ignored it is hard to say that they hold the key to the potential answer here.

Folks elsewhere have suggested that to succeed, we shall need a common threat faced with which team work will be inevitable. This notion misses out on something very salient though and that is whether it doesn’t lead to human extinction in the event that the threat proves unbeatable even then.


Respect up to the redline

Ironically, our times may require no philosophy or coercion from a much revered empire but a virtue instead; Respect. Simple as it may sound, it would be naïve of me to posit that the reception will likely be cordial. For some people the barrier might be fear (Germans are presently standing up against according asylum to Arabs because they fear the new race will “takeaway” their country) while for others it might be nothing but arrogance!

Nonetheless, I suggest respect. Taken the right way, it has such incredible potential to the extent that those whose job is to think are yet to realise its full magic. Respect means being honest in one’s pursuits and believing that whoever is on the other side of the table is as genuine, it means being open-minded, as well as conceding where one gets themselves at the furthest end of wrongest side of the argument.

That way we are able to embrace diversity while creating a semblance of certainty. It also draws a redline that eliminates whoever opts to stubbornly press on by default. And just before critics jump to express concerns on the fact that the approach entirely rests on the shoulders of individual goodwill, I would quickly ask why it would be impossible if it is for the good of the same individuals.