Thursday, September 13, 2012


Late in 2010 I read about a large, renowned on-line retail bookseller selling a book written by a self-confessed child molester. The subject of the book was how to indulge in what is immoral and perverse. There was a furore amongst the public and a demand that the book be removed from the bookseller's site. The bookseller in turn slated such removal as censorship which according to them was not their responsibility. Thousands of customers joined forces and boycotted the bookseller, canceled memberships and soon after the company removed the book from the site. Many customers chose to go back to using the site and continue to make purchases through them again. I choose not to.

That incident has stayed with me as an example of how groups of individuals can abdicate responsibility by passing the buck to another. Maybe censorship is a big deal for the bookseller and so that was their first thought, but I truly believe that all the rules, regulations, institutions in our world should not rule over basic human values. This retailer probably refuses many authors for various reasons, was there really a reason to say yes to this one? Freedom of speech is a right of all, but that freedom abused cannot be a right. There must necessarily be a line that is determined not by written rules rather from our basic respect for one another as human beings. The innocent, the marginalized, the oppressed need us as individuals and as communities to protect them with every cell of our bodies. No one needs to know how to molest a child! The two words, 'child' and 'molestation' do not belong together. For me that is a no-brainer and yet the author gave an interview justifying writing the book to protect the children from harm. In his mind there is a 'humane way' in which the act may be performed. That can only come from a deranged mind. Such a person needs to be kept under surveillance because his thoughts are against basic human values.

When the top executives of an organization can justify the selling of such a book - they are not deranged but are calculating the profits and have shut off one side of their brains so as to let the other side do its job.

Two sides of the brain
Their brains are in an imbalance and this imbalance is rampant in our society today. The analytical side of our brain has placed a spreadsheet with a set of columns with specific headings and formulas, smothering our sense of values so thoroughly that our morality has become subservient to the glitter and glamour of materialism. This is evident when we see who we look up to as role models today. The ones with big homes, multiple luxury and sports vehicles, tons of money with faces and bodies that have completely lost their originality. We emulate celebrities by bragging about wearing clothes or jewelry that a star wore at an event, or one by a designer who caters to a celebrity. We are excited if we are in the presence of an athlete of a major team or a movie star. What is it about them that we admire or aspire to emulate - their name, their fame, their money, their lifestyle? None of these define them. We know very little about the real person within. Yet their outer persona is our ideal. These ideals only take us further away from our own personal humanity and divinity.

As individuals, communities and organizations our social responsibilities are multifold. They do not begin with donating a few bucks to charities or supporting a cause - that is a very small part of social responsibility.

Some Responsibilities
Our responsibility begins with being good human beings who care about the self, family, friends, neighbors, other people, other creatures, our environment, our earth, nature and our collective existence. When we consider this collective existence as an extension of us and us as an integral part of the whole, then and only then can we be truly charitable.

Then it is possible to share what we have and gracefully be part of what others share with us.

I choose not to go back to the bookseller even though their repertoire is bigger, their prices are lower, their customer service is second to none - all great business qualities - but I hesitate because I doubt their integrity. If they can so easily compromise the well-being of children, they undermine their social responsibility and I prefer not to do business with those who may abdicate from their duty that demands they make this world a better place by responding to their inner truth and not only to their pocket-book.We need to slow down and take stock of who we have become as a race and champion change, be the change. Value the truth, measure the people we associate with and learn both how to be and how not to be.

Make a pledge to give up one action or habit today that is immoral or unethical but outwardly profitable so we can turn our own life inward and find that spark that takes us to a higher plane. As the human race, let us recognize that our existence is in jeopardy if we continue to compromise with our own humanity. It is my responsibility to increase the level of humanity and the only way I can, is by being more humane myself.

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