By Sheilla Njoto
So, I had a stimulating conversation with one of my girlfriends. To put it simply, the conversation began with something along the line of this:
“If you can change one thing about the world and succeed, what would it be about?”
It took us a long while to think of a solid answer—perhaps, we didn’t even find one at all at the end of the day. Of course, there were so many other layers of questions underneath that thick surface: what is the ultimate problem that the world is facing? How do we know that the world can do better? Is there an ‘ideal’ state of how the world should work (even when, evidently, the world has never been at that state)? If yes, how do we know this ‘ideal’ image if we haven’t even been there? And what keeps the world from achieving that?
What I presumed to be a 3-minute Q&A became an extended and an uncut philosophical thought-exchange. The only thing that we were sure of was the fact that there was obviously a problem; otherwise, the question would not have emerged itself.
What appeared to be very intriguing for me was that the ‘solutions’ have clearly been omnipresent: they are in the media, in protests, in debates (even presidential debates), in Instagram posts and such and such—and this noticeably becomes the main weapon for the ‘us versus them’ political strategy. However, it takes me a hundred tiers of research to find the ‘problem’; let alone the root of the problems. Solutions seem to be a very commercially marketable product but identifying the problem seems to be on the bottom of the priority--which is irrational, don’t you think?
But maybe—just maybe—if we think about it, this might be an answer on its own. It is the fact that we do not see ourselves as the part of the problem. It is relatively easy to demand for rights and freedom (which is also important, I agree), but it is too hard to look at our own responsibilities and the ‘appropriate’ reaction to our own privileges. At the same time, we often complain about it when others (aside from ourselves) abandon their roles in the society—but honestly, how much have we done it ourselves? We constantly demand a change but we do not want ourselves to change. In short, if we want to banish all evil in the world, it will wipe away most—I’m sorry—I meant all of us. And that includes me.
I believe there is a certain virtue in the classic ‘love thy neighbour’, which I am pretty sure has been overthrown by the more likeable ‘love yourself’. The act of serving is seemingly associated to the default role of the ‘marginalised’, a call for a superhero to advocate this cause for you. As a woman, my heart often cringes when hearing the word, as if it has been tattooed on my forehead like a prophecy since I was born as a female. But what if I have been looking at it all wrong? What if serving is simply a contribution? What if it does not, in any way, mean less competence or capabilities? What if it is an option for everyone? What if it is a sign that you are content, responsible, independent, and that you appreciate your rights, as opposed to what it has otherwise been advertised?
The problem, possibly, lies on the fact that most of the time people do not want to be responsible—what we often want (consciously or otherwise) is to be treated special, whether or not being responsible is the case. If everyone wants to be treated special, though, then why you? Life is almost like the more accurate portrayal of ‘the game of thrones’, where everyone wants to build their own thrones and glory for their own selves.
Well, I do not know about you, but what has been challenging me is the absence of natural instinct to go beyond myself and look at myself from an impartial perspective. It is easy to look at all the worthiness of attention in ourselves and all the wrongs in others (or at this age, I should say all the wrongs in others who disagree with you). So if you ask me, the core problem of the world; it would be self-centredness: just as science thought that the universe revolved around earth, we walk day-to-day thinking that the world only revolves around us.
But anyway, what do you think?
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