"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Beware the danger of remoteness

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored,’ 
 (attributed to Aldous Huxley)

Perhaps one of the greatest enemies of responsible behavior is to be found in the remoteness that often exists between cause and effect. It is so much easier not to have a conscience about our behavior where the consequences of our actions are not directly experienced.

Much has been made in the media of late about the supply by the UK of tear gas to the Middle East and whether it has been used in the latest people uprisings. How ethical is this? It seems that as long as the weapons, security equipment, training, etc. are not used by the purchasers for people oppression, then that is OK? Come on now, why else would some of these countries want to buy our war related goods and services? Let’s get real.
What, I wonder, does it feel like to manufacture riot control products like tear gas and know how these are being used? I could not be involved in such a thing. Or could I? Perhaps some of the shares in my pension plan support unethical companies? It seems that money rules our hearts as well as our heads. And it doesn’t stop there. Someone designs these things, someone else will pack them up, then there is the shipping, the transport, the office back up, invoicing, sales, etc etc. Do those of us who are involved in any way, however small, have no imagination, no compassion, no empathy for fellow human beings?

People use the expression ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ to mean that something is easily forgotten or dismissed as soon as it is beyond our range of vision. It can be used in everyday conversation for quite trivial incidents. The problem is that whether we realize it or not, we often live our lives by the same principle, and some incidents may be far from trivial. I will come back to this over the next week. Let’s all meanwhile think about what we are doing and imagine the cycle of events across the globe which are triggered by that action. It has been said that many of the problems of the world are exacerbated by our lack of imagination. Let’s hone that imagination up a bit!!

There is a good article in the Guardian, by John Kampfner, When tyrants want tear gas, the UK has always been happy to oblige.

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