Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Protection: Where To Hide

How does one protect oneself in modern life?

The modern life is often seen to be perilous and most of us feel inclined towards a need for protection.

Insurance used to be most acceptable form of protection from unforeseen financial circumstances. Unforeseen bodily impairment leading to the explusion from the economic mainstream is a fear that people could be tempted to impart regular sums of money on the promise of a token sum on the eventuality. Death is pretty foreseeable although not precisely, so an insurance for death is very much a intertemporal savings arrangement for the middle class. (For the poor, it is more a case of overcoming the fear of having not enough money for proper burial). From this basic ideas, all kinds of fear are promoted by the insurance industry, such as education for the children, illnesses, old age, and I think somebody has come up with the insurance for unemployment (which is a brillant idea, the one all of us really need, if the returns are sufficient).

Education is often seen to be a universal insurer in the belief that a certified 3-4 years spent in an institution of higher learning is sufficient ground for keeping a toe in the doorway when times are hard. For any business needs a talent to take one of out a quagmire. This usually applies to the case of a business with no active owners and a hired hand is expected to bring in the profits, usually with a share to the manager, but at the expense of the workforce who will be often shakened and stirred, and spit out when times are bad. For an owner-operator, the entrepreneur of course sees himself as the master strategist and any hired hand is but an underling to do his bidding.

In the civil service, the ministers are the masters and all bureaucrats are but servants not to the people but to the ministers. For the top civil servants to be able to counter any unreasonable requests of the ministers, they really must be men of integrity (and that integrity must come from their knowledge and their wisdom); failing which, the civil servants are nothing but peons. It is an insurance for both the ministers and the civil servants when they collude to fool the people - but then the truth will always prevail even if belatedly. How do we protect ourselves from bad government? Bad government comes from the lack of wisdom. Strong leadership can lead to bad things, and good leadership without power is a lame duck. I rather a good system in place first and then staff it with the right kind of people.

In everyday life, we all live dangerously. Harm and death await us at every corner. We go about our daily chores like bubbles jumping up and down until we pop and disappear. There is no certainty, and out of this constant fear about the unknown future, we try to manage our immediate environment. In everyday society, this is called politics - the politics of fear, war, and control. Mobilising the power of the mob is the basis of political power. We need a strong leadership that is good, and restrained. A strong leadership that incite the use of violence to control and weld power is the way of the gangster. When gangsterism arises in politics, the countervailing force must be the exercise of the power of law and order by the government. It is the fear of strangers that people choose to congregate in villages and towns and nations. When society does not understand its own people and consider each other strange, we have the ingredients for civil war.

It is modern wisdom that a life is worth the same as all lives. To think of dispensing of someone's life so that one can live is the thinking of a selfish person. To think of dispensing of one's own life so that others may live is usually considered a hero by those who benefited from such actions. Both are incorrect for their extremism.

At the end of the day, the only way to protect oneself from unhappiness is not to fear death but also not to love death. We should use our brains to express ourselves and solve problems which must surely be technical in nature. To charge every issue with emotion is dangerous in an era of mass communication and miscommunication. The only way to protect all of us is through clear thinking and reconciliation, no matter how painful emotionally.

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