The moral dilemma of political and cultural leadership: A call for action

By October 17, 2014 Blog No Comments

Mankind has a rich history in its wake. That history is a canvas depicting periods of tyranny alternating with peace, periods of suffering and collapse, and periods of triumphant glimpses of democracy. Through all those poignant eras, one cannot fail to notice the passion fuelling those men who waged a war for a greater cause; a passion borne of a common vision for humanity and the preservation of our future generations.
It is now, more than ever before, paramount that we inspire ourselves from that same passion and drive. Whilst prophecies of environmental doom were merely cast aside as speculations of the deluded in the olden days, we cannot shrug these warnings aside anymore. In our era of scientific genius and discovery, we have unearthed tangible evidence of our climatic shift. Not only is our environment ailing but our societal boundaries are also crumbling under the burden of a flawed economic and social system. This beseeches a call for unified action.
Our philosophies and actions should coalesce into a common goal. By attempting to remediate the unravelling of global fabric and pursuing environmental and social activism, one would not only strengthen our commitment to the community but to the survival of mankind as a whole.
In moments of nostalgic remembrance when we reflect back on our past, we cannot help but notice the progress we have made. In our current post-colonial era, we can boast of a cohesive society and the fusion of cultures and of a technological leap as never seen before. However, before being too self-congratulatory, we should remember that this was not a feat of pioneering. This was merely a logical assimilation and reflection of the globalisation process. We are dictated by the law of survival. Either we could keep up or fall behind in this fast paced world. But we all too often forget that blindly moulding to a trend is neither rewarding nor intelligent.
In a bid for power and the rush to raise our small island to the standard of global giants, our leaders are unfortunately adopting a less than equitable approach. Whilst their intentions are commendable, their approach to ensuring the support of the nation is anything but. Whilst we are portrayed to the world as a utopia of unified nation, we are nevertheless beleaguered by traumas of the past. The spectre of racial and communal division can sometimes still be seen simmering below our smooth facade. Instead of banishing these ghosts firmly to the past and looking towards the future, this weakness of ours is sometimes ruthlessly exploited by the same people who are leading our country into this new world.

This trend can be seen on a daily basis but is noticeably more pronounced on the eve of elections. How often do we see politicians appealing to our communal or racial bias in a bid to secure votes or to promote ideas that our society as a whole might condemn? How often is a national issue confounded into a racial issue? How often do we fall prey to empty promises that never see the light of day? This approach of ruling by segregation is shameful and is being used to cloud real problems. Our nation is being hoodwinked by feats of words and appeal to our innate sense of communal belonging. However, we should realise that for our country to progress, societal division has to stop. Catering to only a section of the population and specific communities does not do us justice as a country. It can only increase the gap in economic and social disparity.
The trend to blindly accept decisions without questioning motive or purpose is prevalent. We have to learn to challenge the status quo. It is irrational to adopt ideologies that can ultimately reveal themselves to be a threat to not only our overall community but also to our way of life. We have the moral obligation, not only to ourselves but also to our children that we lobby for a more equitable and ethical leadership. While strongly connecting cultures is of penultimate importance, we need to widen our scope towards a model that ultimately caters for a national fabric. For this, we need to stop being passive witnesses to our lives and instead become vocally and physically active.
A first step would involve focusing our attention to our surrounding environment. Once again, in this context, we have merely followed a trend set by others. Our infrastructure is dissonant. It is a repository of obsolete buildings. The complex integration of numerous scales of form, building, space, and infrastructure is rejected in favor of a primitive and exclusive reading based on building dominance. Homogeneity of expression now reigns and rejects typological character and essence, regional precedence or context as inconsequential. As a result, familiar terrains are routinely violated, one project at a time, and replaced by anarchic project fragments.
Planning is incrementally designed and divorced from its natural surroundings, thus slowly erasing all evidence of the landscape. Country branding and marketing are dismissed as nostalgic attempts to restore psychic comfort. Water and air quality deteriorate, as buildings and systems increasingly do not account for the physical processes that they are subjected to. Energy models favor economically and environmentally destructive systems. Just to mention a few, the visual diversity, practicality and legitimacy of our fabric are reduced to a discordant monoculture of monumental trash!
Such a tenuous infrastructural fabric is a cry for help and urgent change. We owe it to our future generations to espouse positive, environmentally, and contextually conscious practices. The sheer importance of striving towards new ideologies cannot be emphasized enough!
Our country has suffered and wept, and yet we continue to turn a deaf ear to its pleas in an ambitious bid for global progress. We willingly blind ourselves to the fact that our endeavors are costing us so much more. Our society is bearing the brunt of economic upheavals and our environment is weathering storms as our sea levels swell and our biodiversity laments its loss. Productive and conducive change is feasible and gradual. It is important for our policy makers to realize and acknowledge their responsibility in this process. Our leaders should be symbols of advocacy and empowerment and strive towards creating symbiosis between culture, society, economy and ecology.
It is high time for us to become personal and professional advocates for a new system. Our work more than ever, should be clear in purpose, focused on the usage of appropriate ideologies, intent on pursuing not only project constructions, but also regeneration of nature and dedicated equally to the service of status and wealth as it is to social equity. We are a nation celebrating its contrast with a diversity of colors and cultures. Whilst this is a source of indomitable pride for us, we should nevertheless be finally ready to embrace the poetic words of our national anthem: “As one people, as one nation, in peace, justice and liberty”.

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