In our regular routine lives, we typically mind our own business – we do things that we plan to do or are destined to do: whichever way you look at it, we end up focusing on ourselves and what we usually do. We run our business – corporate or private, and our own personal lives, in the manner we think is the best, and keep most of our affairs private, minding our own things all through. May be you can call it sheer survival in the most selfish manner possible.
Nothing unusual right? Most of us are like that, no different.
But minding one’s own business in all aspects of our lives also keeps us isolated from the broader problems and ills of the society at large. We are so busy right through the day and the week, that we do not have time to think of anything beyond our own selfish interests. Of course, all of us get influenced and affected by news. And bad news is not in short supply anywhere. But it comes and goes, and we sway along with it, and after a period of disrupted thoughts, we go back to our usual matters of close personal interest to ourselves. Nothing else matters. Other things which are not directly affecting us should be taken care of by someone else – what is the government doing, what is the police doing, etc.,
So, in a nutshell, we develop as very selfish human beings with utterly no interest or concern about the rest of humanity. May be not all the 7.3B people, of course. But what about the immediate neighbourhood of the area that you live in? What about the city you live in? Do you think that without everyone’s active involvement and contribution, things will be normal as you always imagine? Especially in large countries with serious law and order problems, crimes in every downtown area, demonstrations, and so on and so forth, it becomes critical to be not only completely aware of such problems and issues, but also be engaged in some way to alleviate someone’s problems. May be it is the homeless guy sleeping on the street (while there are millions of homeless people in the U.S., it was recently reported that there are around a thousand folks in the city of Singapore who are sleeping in the streets in a population of over 5.6M – can you imagine?), may be it is a Charity that you used to know or contribute to, may be it is an old lady struggling to cross the road, thousands of little things which are all a routine part of life in every city. Busy people, of course, have no time to even look outside of their cars at the roads. Wealthy people are totally insulated. Government folks are besieged with big problems of national importance. Businesses carry on. Life goes on.
The whole thing is a charade. There is not much emotion in business, even in private life – it is all mechanical motions which drive life. How about adding some emotions while walking on the roads? How about smiling at the guy who crosses you while you are executing your “busy” morning walk? How about holding the elevator door for someone inside to go out first, instead of rushing out first?
Man is made from a communal fabric – by “communal”, I mean commune or joint living in a “kibbutz”, borrowing from the Israeli term for such social living. Small Indian villages, especially in South India, represent what we have lost over the years. In such small places, everyone knows everybody else. They take an active interest in the problems of the others and the community. Such a thing does not exist anymore anywhere, at least in the cities.
“Mind your own business” comes through as an admonishment towards someone trying to interfere in your business or work. That is not what I mean here in this context. In fact, “mind your business” is a selfish embodiment of one’s isolated character which ignores all other participants and their roles. Such an exclusionary attitude and corresponding behaviour are emblematic of the ills of the society today, almost everywhere. There is no utopia anywhere, however.
Getting engaged in society’s problems is hard, of course. Why should anyone bother even about one’s neighbours? In developed countries, everyone is suspicious of even the neighbours, wondering always what they are up to. So, most people have a polite smile and walk off as fast as possible from any familiar faces. This is not an exaggeration, it happens all the time. The ability to be pleasant, courteous, involved and engaged is hard to implement in practice, and that inability reinforces the principle of “mind your business” – it is the social equivalence of the non-interference philosophy. Even if the neighbouring country is murdering its citizens, your country chooses to keep quiet due to this famous and lousy philosophy. Does it not apply to your neighbour engaged in domestic abuse or violence?
In simple terms, it is absolutely essential for every citizen and good samaritan to be involved in his or her own society’s problems in one way or the other. A simple way is to start somewhere in a very simple fashion – like joining a charity or counsel prison inmates or handle a suicide phone line, and so many other valuable causes which exist in society. Just give it a thought, and you will understand easily how you can be of help, provided you are willing to devote some part of your “valuable” time to such good causes which would undoubtedly help the society in which you live in.
Have a great week ahead, folks.
10th November 2019