Let me explain my headline. The words in quotations – unless stipulated otherwise – are written by my Facebook friend, Mike B. Mike has a habit of commenting on my work in a way that can be frustratingly affronting but at the same time challenges me to think more deeply about the truth of my communication.
Often, when I am left thinking my words are just a portrayal of left-wing bias, he forces me to rethink and refine. Think deeper. (I recall saying to my children in their teenage years. “Think beyond the answer. There’s sure to be another one lurking somewhere.”)
This time his comments referred to my previous post that was extremely critical of the past, current, and ongoing corruption of the Liberal and National parties.
Mike B writes:
“Most political commentators indulge themselves in invective, which is by definition ‘Abusive or venomous language used to express blame or censure or bitter deep-seated ill will’.
Praise is rarer, that is ‘expressions of approval and commendation’.
Both, when addressed to politics, are irrelevances. A discussion and understanding of human nature might be opportune. Political behaviour, our historical narrative informs, expresses what humans fundamentally are: honest and devious, cruel and kind hearted, violent and peaceful, primitive and sophisticated, clever and stupid.
The bifurcation of opposites in our nature and behaviour is endemical. Nothing has changed in our nature since our time on this planet began.
How, John Lord, do you set about changing human nature to something better? Start maybe with an appraisal of individual self-interest opposed to species imperatives. (Toffler) Otherwise human failing become simply a boring endlessly repeated litany.”
To cut to the chase, what Mike is saying to me is that it is one thing to identify the corruption that invests itself in politics and society, then be critical of it, but it is another to write about how we achieve social change.
To prove that I have given the matter some thought. Allow me to throw into the ring one of my quotes that addresses this issue:
“Will we ever grow intellectually to the point where we are able to discern, understand and act on those matters that seek the good within us?”
I also use another quote:
“Question everything. What you see, what you feel, what you hear and what you are told until you understand the truth of it.”
In my article I asked:
“What is it in the hearts and minds of men (l declare women more honest than men) that turns them into liars, robbers, cheats-men of ill repute, corrupt scoundrels who would take from the public purse that which is not theirs in order to feather their own nest?”
When I write and I use muscular language to describe wrong-doing, I constantly ask myself if what I’m doing is really important? Is it what I believe in, or have I just adjusted to what I’m doing?
If wrong-doing or the temptation toward it is intrinsically endemic in us all then identifying the problem is central to changing social attitudes.
Since I posted my piece more wrong-doing has come to light. The head of ASIC has been caught dipping his fingers into his expense’s card. The head of Australia Post has been giving staff expensive Cartier watches. It has become a never-ending story.
Novelist Ayn Rand said that “social change has to start with a moral revolution within each individual.”
Wikipedia tells us that the person Mike referred to, Alvin Toffler, was:
“… an American writer, futurist, and businessman known for his works discussing modern technologies, including the digital revolution and the communication revolution, with emphasis on there effects on cultures worldwide. He is regarded as one of the world’s outstanding futurists.
In his early works he focused on technology and its impact, which he termed ‘information overload.’ In 1970 his first major book about the future, Future Shock, became a worldwide best-seller and has sold over 6 million copies.”
On the subject we are discussing he identified management and leadership as a means of changing sociality morality. The way we think.
Toffler stated many of his ideas during an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 1998:
“Society needs people who take care of the elderly and who know how to be compassionate and honest.” Furthermore, he said. “Society needs people who work in hospitals. Society needs all kinds of skills that are not just cognitive; they’re emotional, they’re affectional. You can’t run the society on data and computers alone.”
Changing the way we think about temptation and corruption is a big subject because we are not just talking about financial gain but all manner of things that might lead us into ethically bad temptations.
Manipulating others so that they might participate in our temptation is a particularly bad side effect.
Corruption permeates every facet of society from religious institutions, education, sports: even law enforcement isn’t immune. It takes on many forms from bribery, nepotism, bid-rigging, embezzlement, extortion, vote-buying, price-fixing, protection rackets, character assassination and a hundred other varieties of fraud.
Yet our conceptual understanding of this evil – let alone our capacity to understand and combat it – is rather thin.
If change is to take place then it must first take place in the very hearts of men and women who are leaders in our community. Parents, teachers, law enforcers, faith leaders, media proprietors, business leaders, and of course politicians.
Avoiding temptation and corruption needs to be built into the syllabus of every course with an element of leadership.
Human nature, being what it is, we can never hope to eliminate bad decisions but if our leaders demonstrated a larger accommodation for truth and transparency that invited itself into the recipient’s ear then we would be a much better society.
My answer to Mike is that even though corruption has outlived all predictions of its demise, I will continue to expose this regrettable feature of our natural condition with my harshest words whenever corruption crosses my path. I will, however, from now on do so with an eye open to its cause and its elimination.
In the meantime, I will continue to advocate for some form of national ICAC. The use of truth to fight corruption remains a vital weapon.
My thought for the day
There is often a subtle difference between what you are tempted to do and what you should do.
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