Earlier this month, as some people or all people I know would know, I had issues with my debit card, https://azphoenix.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/from-light-to-dark-and-back-again-a-trip-through-the-gunas/. Long story short on that one, no the disputes have not yet been settled, and no, I don’t really know what’s going on. In fact, judging by the daily phone calls I’m getting about how I owe them money, it seems like they don’t know what’s going on either. It almost feels to me, that as a customer, I am chopped up into different pieces instead of being seen as a whole person.
This whole situation along with a conference I ran earlier this week however, have got me thinking. Yes, we know that organisations exist to make a profit. I mean, no organisation exists just to be there and pay employees money. You make a profit, you grow, you take over other markets. It’s sort of like collonisation, only it’s done through commerce. There is a status quo to achieve, to be in the top 500 or whatever list there is in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I know organisations play a part in ensuring that economies run, and people have jobs. I do wonder however, about the role of organisations in wealth distribution, and how many people are trampled in their run to become the top whatever company, for God knows what reason.
Smaller organisations might be more ethical because one customer can make the difference between this year’s profit and next year’s profit. Often, one act of kindness now, although it might cause you a loss, will be the thing that generates good word to ensure a bigger profit in coming times. Of course, the more customers you have, the harder it is to keep track of all the small acts of kindness, and lets be honest, there comes a point where as a corporation you weigh up the costs and benefits, and think, “hey, losing one customer who in terms of cash is really a small stakeholder, won’t make much of a difference to our future.”
One thing we seem to forget however, it that corporations are made of people. Boards are made of people. Policies are made by people. And as people, at which point do we start thinking that hiding behind a corporate name makes what we’re doing alright? Did we just let go of the responsibility of making a choice by saying things like, “our policy is….” Yes, I know you can’t just walk away from your job, as I can’t walk away from my job even when I don’t agree with what people are doing. The reality is that we need the money we make to live, pay rent, put food on the table, buy things. I like money because it gets me a roof over my head, food to eat, clothes over my body, and some things that are not a necessity, but really nice to have, like my yoga mat.
Coming back to what makes an organisation (duh people), how often in the day do you stop to think if what you’re doing is ethical? Well, yes, it might be legal, but legal might not always be ethical. As a Muslim, you might want to stop and think if the money you make is halal. People seem to think that halal only refers to having food slaughtered a certain way, but it is so much bigger than that. Sure you can say that someone working in a company that makes a non-halal product like alcohol is not making halal money, but is it that simple? Is it halal if you are part of an organisation making more than 50% of profit on a single thing? Is it halal if you got your contract through the people you know because they can’t be bothered to sit through tenders and actually assess if someone else might be better for the job? And the chicken that you eat, sure it’s meant to be slaughtered in a way that causes the least suffering (very sharp knife ensuring that it dies with a single cut), but what about the way it lived? Does it matter that it was living in a chicken coup with 1000 other chickens in the worst condition, actually suffering through its life?
Of course, of course, if we thought about all these things we would never eat, or work for a corporation, but maybe by starting to think about these things we can start questioning. Without questions, we wouldn’t be looking for answers would we? I am one person. What I say in a blog won’t really change much and for every person who agrees with me, about 10 will think I’m mad or have too much time on my hands (i.e not doing what I should do in that race to become the Manager or Director of such and such) to be thinking about all these things.
We all think we’re individuals, and we do things to benefit ourselves, which makes sense of course, but the truth is we are not really separate. When a bomb hits or a tsunami hits, are the policy makers separate from the homeless? When a fire burns down a village, will it choose to burn down one race over another? If a large earthquake hits can we only feel the tremors in one country? Every person definitely has every right to be the centre of their own universe, but does being in an ivory tower, or holding the biggest weapons of mass destruction makes you the centre of THE world? News flash, the world is a globe.
What happens here, affects there. Burn your neighbour’s house and the smoke might come your way. And no matter how different we are, there are the four relationships we have in our lives:
Our relationships with ourselves
Our relationships with God (or any higher power)
Our relationships with others
And our relationships with our environment and nature
It’s easy to think that someone else is worrying about these things, but who’s worrying about these things if everyone i thinking that way? And the truth is, no matter how big we think we look in the mirror, in the grand scheme of things, we’re really not.