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Thinking Out Aloud

   Thinking Out Aloud
For the record

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 purpose.

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.

Ali Haider