Sunday, July 8, 2007

Political Corruption: Do Truly BAD People Exist?

What makes someone "bad." Some say it is who they are, something they cannot control and cannot change. Some say it is a result of environmental determinism, the combination of the setting and happenings around them that shape their character and mind. Others say that it is entirely controllable and you just need self-restraint and it is completely your own fault if you do something "bad."

Who knows what it is.. who can say for sure? I think it's a combination, but I often wonder as some seem to be more likely than others depending on the situation.

Selfishness and greed are prominent human characteristics that are at the core of many problems and conflicts. Wars, political conflicts, poverty, devastation, so much of it stems from selfishness and greed. I've had the pleasure of having some great conversations with Fredrik, a program manager for Microsoft Emerging Markets who travels around developing technology and implementing technology in developing countries. He has been to India several times, and we were talking about the reason for India's poverty, lack of a middle class, and slow development. Here is what I've learned/deduced from that discussion (to be taken with a grain of salt because it is of course my opinion and his, not the final hoorah.. there are many details that I will not include and do not know, which I plan to educate myself on in the future. I have always tried to stay away from political affairs because the corruption disgusts me, but I'm discovering that if I want to really help, I need to know about the political systems and find the non-corrupted parts to work with.).

There are several people in India that are richer than Bill Gates. After that upper upper class, there is the upper class consisting of actors and politicians that are very wealthy. After that there is the lower lower class. And little in between. Why is this? Part of it is due to religion which begins another controversy and headache of a discussion altogether. Many Indian citizens believe in a form of reincarnation. So if they are rich in their current life, it means they did something right in their previous life, and are being rewarded for their achievements. If they are poor in their current life, they were bad in their previous life, and thus are being punished in this one. This accounts for why the rich feel they don't need to and in fact should not help the poor, and why the poor are so set in the way they are and don't feel they can get out.

Now initially you may think the solution is to wake the people out of this conception that many may deem absurd. However, many more problems can arise by trying to change such a big part of their culture. People depend on their religion and the society is built up around it. Trying to change their view on this concept could have dire consequences. In addition, we don't have proof that they're incorrect. Perhaps their beliefs are true. Who are we to say they're false and condemn them for their beliefs? Then the tricky part becomes how do you solve the problem. A deeper problem exists still: what really is the problem? Are the rich people "bad" and don't feel empathy and don't want to help? Have they just not seen the poverty (which seems impossible because it is everywhere) and thus have not had a chance to feel the empathy? Have they seen it and want to help but feel that it would be wrong to do so? And then are they truly malicious? Do they only care about making money for themselves and getting more power? Why is the development so slow?

In the end, the best solution always seems to be one where everyone wins. The problem is finding this solution. In this particular situation, I see one potential solution that seems realistic (given there's someone that has the opportunity and the skill to do it). Going from the angle of convincing the people in power that they have power, they have money, but they do not have the acts that will make their names go down in history; they do not have the glory. Selfishness and greed are 2 sins, but the desire for glory is another... but can be harnessed to do good. If someone can convince the people in power that making the people of their nation stable and bringing them out of poverty will put their names in history books for eternity, making them the leaders of a developed nation... that would be (I would think) extremely tempting.

I do not want to believe that anyone can be truly "bad." People make mistakes, but I can't imagine someone doing anything purposely to hurt someone else. They may overlook something or not realize the effect it will have.. but purposely hurting someone? If they think it is the lesser of 2 evils, then they may be able to justify it... but someone who just likes making others feel pain... I can't believe that could exist. And for those few where it does... it's a problem of the wrong chemicals in their brain and their feeling of exasperation or something where they have lost hope or are not thinking straight. Where they think hurting the other persons is the better of two evils where perhaps the worser evil is themselves being hurt...

but then again... perhaps i'm being too idealistic. how can we ever really know?


asim@mit said...

HI! dear it is my pleasure that you are in india and i am working in pakistan for the same cause.Would you like to visit

Kenneth said...

I was sad and happy after reading this report and the other regarding the NGO corrupion.

I was sad not because such things exist, but because you're struggling for the solution for the better world. I was happy for the same reason.

I still think strong-good can be achieved, which has been my life passion for some time.

Looking at you and what you do there is teaching me a lesson or two regarding the subject.

Fixing it for good is unlikely, but it shouldn't stop you from challenging it in various angle. I found that there are many good people doing exactly that. I rather not say who since itself will start many arguements. However, I can surely said you are one of them without any hesitation.

You want an answer? I don't have it either. You want to do something about it? Continue to do what you do now. You're doing fine, more than what I could do when I was your age.

The time will tell, but some "good" person will come along and fix them and make it a better world for many.

I think you are a "good" person. It's my honor to be your uncle.