Sep 27, 1999
I have been thinking a lot this week about the founding of the Office
of Accountability and why it has become necessary to officially create an entity that
deals specifically with accountability or the requirement to account for one's conduct. It
would be far more prudent to find ways to resolve issues on a proactive basis rather than
reactively and unless the process yields perfect consistency, it serves very little
As children, each one of us has heard our parents tell us about that
voice of conscience that resides in us and how we must listen to it to stay protected from
doing something 'wrong'. Unfortunately, as we grow, we tend to listen to that voice less
and less because we learn to justify our acts any way we can. It is that voice of
self-justification that takes over our innate given qualities of determining what is right
or wrong conduct.
As children, there is little connection with the issues and
responsibilities that we face as adults and somewhere along that growing process, we lose
track. If you ask your child if he or she thinks it is okay to steal or hurt someone, he
or she will invariably say no. As a parent, I ask my child that how he would feel if
someone borrowed a toy and didn't return it. Yet as businessmen, we often take pride in
how we manage to take advantage of a bank, business partner or a client by taking things
without an intention of returning it.
Our conscience acts as a reference guide for our conduct and we need to
think of it as the 'higher' part of our cosmology. It is central in our growth as good
responsible citizens and human beings. The 'higher' in us is that of selflessness,
compassion, integrity, kindness and love. If our community is filled with people who refer
to their 'higher' side then our whole community will grow and flourish.
In direct contrast, if we constantly ascribe to the 'lower' side of
our-selves, that is selfishness, fulfilment of our desires, discrimination and negativity
towards all things that don't support us, our community will shrivel and constantly sink
lower. One of my greatest teachers said, " if one tends more towards the lower than
the higher of the self, eventually the mind and body will cave in." In short, isn't
this what is happening to our health, both individually and as a nation?
The solution is within each of us. If we want to help ourselves and
subsequently our nation, we have to aspire for the higher and nobler traits that we
instinctively had as children. If we learn again how to be accountable to ourselves
without self-justification, we shall be on the road to health again and there will be no
need to find ways to outsmart anyone.