Dignity of labor

January 4, 2015

I am a great believer in building safety nets to protect the well being of the community. I don’t believe in that other bullshit economic theory of leaving everything to the vagaries of the free market.

When cash crop fail as they invariably do due to freakish weather. A reserve economy kicks in. To enable villagers to gainfully turn the wheel of life by producing stuff that they can sell.

This way they are happy and so am I.

In the kampung, the divide between rich and poor is starkest. Landowners are wealthy. As for the villagers most live hand to mouth.

To maintain the tenuous social balance and nourish the collective harmony takes commitment and effort. I make it a point to touch base with the villagers as often as I can to find out ways to strengthen the safety net.

The bicycle is a great way of accomplishing this hearts and minds program since it doesn’t come with all the intimidating trappings of status and wealth, unlike a big 4×4 car. At this level one is able to gather intelligence discreetly and make strong emotional connections – since one will always come across as a simple and humble soul.

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‘The rich do not often have the imagination or social intelligence to realize by just the mere act of breathing and living they can inflict tremendous pain on the poor.

That is because we live in a society where the rich has successfully managed to convince the poor – they have no one to blame but themselves if they are poor!

To me this has always been a form of psychological warfare that the rich has deployed to keep the poor docile and complaint – they, the rich will gleefully tell the poor – if I can make it…why can’t you? See, there is nothing wrong with the system…..the problem must be you!

But this does not alter the fact. Money will always be a commodity that is hard to come by and even if one is industrious there is no guarantee one can successfully escape crippling poverty.

In truth when we closely examine the lives of losers and winners – it boils to down to only a couple of set pieces if we discount hard work, intelligence and social skills. Usually luck plays a preponderant role. Of course this is a reality that a wealthy man never ever tells others unless he wants to commit social hara kiri. As he would certainly get more mileage reputationally by wordsmithing his own mythology as to how he made it – he was born with superior intelligence….he is related to Nostradamus so that gives him uncanny foresight – he was a natural born risk taker etc etc etc.

But in truth if we discount those who truly deserve to be poor and just limit our little experiment to the rest of the hard working masses – the actual difference between the losers and winners has to come down to just pot luck – one was just there at the right time and place that allowed everything to come together marvelously.

Admitting this usually takes a certain degree of candor and soul searching on one’s part – but to me this has always been a necessary right of passage for every man of consequence.

Because following in the wake of this awful realization is the very idea – before one can look down and judge the poor….one would do well to remember many of them may not have had the benefit of good fortune that once came this man’s way to transform him into a successful man.

Maybe they weren’t born into a wealthy and an influential family like him…maybe the father was a alcoholic and the mother was just a drug addict….maybe they started their business at the wrong time when even the best idea could only turn to mud…maybe, maybe, maybe…and in this way, that man who would otherwise be proud, arrogant and judgemental can only be wise….as he knows a thing for what it really is and not what others say it is.

This is what the sages mean when they say, never forget your roots!’

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