Towards a Better Social Environment

The right questions we need to be asking

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash

It seems that the more advanced a place gets, the weaker the social environment becomes. Less developed places seem to be friendlier and welcoming. The very civilized places have hostility problems.

A friend told me that his parents started out their lives in a very less civilized area of a place. He said he liked the area even though it is not so equipped. Then, he said his parents got richer and decided to get a house in a much more civilized area. He told me that he couldn’t stay there. This is because the kids don’t play outside. Everybody is overprotective of what is theirs. At twilight, the area is empty — everybody is fenced into their own world. That’s one story and we know that we cannot shun civilization because of that.

Money doesn’t change people, money only reveals who they really are.

The environment seems to be getting more and more hostile every day. Civilization is not the cause — rather it is the loop that opened the hostility up. The majority of people in the world are not mentally equipped to handle the current level of first-world civilization. People’s manner of thinking seems to be the factor dragging things down. The problem is, most people would rather die than change their way of thinking. And worse, they are training their children to be like that. Those are the people that produce liabilities into the world. I know it, I have seen it and I can speak about it.

Someone told me something that constituted his very belief. (Actually, it’s one of my colleagues in the remote town). I pointed it out to him that the notion was wrong but he insisted that it was correct. So, I asked him that if I proved it to him that his notion was wrong, would he accept that he is wrong? The answer was an emphatic no. So, I didn’t waste my time and energy to do any convincing.

The remote town we were seems to be pleasant to the environment and local tribesmen. But to the foreigners, it is a different story. On a general level, the friendliness does not include the absence of robbers. And they can be armed. There is a slight difference between a robber and a thief. A thief takes what is not his without the consent of the owner or the one in charge to create hurt and loss. But a robber takes what is not his with the unwilling consent of the owner or the one in charge to create hurt and loss. They are very similar but you need to note the difference.

The Big Robbery

I told you we met three different banks in a state of “tsunami aftermath” when we got into the town. We later asked those we met what happened and they told us the story. It is time for you to hear it.

The robbers were very armed and prepared. The town’s police station is not very far from the third bank. The banks were by the main road and were quite close to each other (as you know, it’s not a big town). On that day, the robbers went first to the police station and literarily erased it out of the equation. I had a reason to go to the police station and I discovered a new building had to be constructed. This is because the previous one was battered beyond the hopes of renovation. If you see that abandoned building, you will shake your head for those who were in that building that day. It wasn’t a fight, neither was it a shoot-out between the police and the robbers. The robbers showed up (before going anywhere else) and opened fire on the police station. When they saw that the station was paralyzed, then they proceeded to the banks.

This is not something that should be narrated but something that should die with time. But I mention these things to you so that these words can mean more to you than a piece of writing. And that’s how the town went from promising back to the 21st century Stone Age.

21st Century Stone Age Realities

There is only one cash machine in the entire town and it is often loaded with cash not more than twice a week. Rumor has it that the best time to push for luck against the machine is on Monday mornings.

My roommate once went to the bank for withdrawal. (He had guessed that the cash machine was out of cash and he was right). When he got there he met this long queue that continued outside the banking hall. Of course, he met some agitation going on and the look on the faces of those on the queue told him how on the edge they all were. He was trying to find a spot in the queue by locating the last person in the queue. Soon, he got some rash answer in the local language.

He couldn’t understand, so he asked someone who understood English to interpret. They told him that the queue began from the day before. And even at that moment, the bank staff are yet to start attending to customers, so he should go back to his house. Although it didn’t sound much like advice, he took it anyway. The only thing is that he had to go the extra mile to minister to his stomach since he left the bank empty-handed.

Thinking for Solutions

The environment is quite hostile, even the plants and animals feel it. The ecosystem feels it. The disturbing things scientists found out about the environment didn’t start yesterday. It didn’t start when people started burning fossil fuel. If you saw the initial state of the earth (or should I say the universe), perhaps you will be able to understand better. And in case you’re wondering, I think it is scientifically possible to see the initial state of the earth.

So, if you want to change the world, how do you intend to do it? How do you intend to turn the tide against the hostility?

If you don’t want people to walk by the road where fast-moving vehicles are, it would be foolish to put a signpost by the road that says, ‘don’t walk’. Instead, what you do is that you create a walkway.

If you don’t want people to cross the highway, it is foolish to pass a law that makes crossing the highway a punishable offense. Instead, you construct a pedestrian bridge. Now anybody who refuses to use the pedestrian bridge is making a risky decision. Such a person bears the full consequence of that. You can’t force people not to take a particular route but you can make them prefer another route. That is basic social engineering.

Where people thrive, it is natural for everything thing else to thrive. Only good people make places good. Reward, don’t punish.

Create, don’t make “Stop” signs

Don’t try to force-change people. Be results-oriented, not efforts-oriented.

This article was written in 2015/2016 from my experience in a community service initiative. Read the entire collection in the order it was written here.

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