Do we really have enough will to come together and cope with challenges? Let us have a look at this metaphor of our body which consists of trillions of cells. “A main purpose of a cell is to organize. Cells hold a variety of pieces and each cell has a different set of functions. ” Some are processing food into energy and transport to feed other cells; brain cells are transmitting electrical signals to send messages; muscular cells are for movement; some killer cells combat bacteria; others regenerate new tissues around wounded area, and so on.
Our cells work together to keep our body system alive.Have we learnt the lesson from the cells? As Asian citizens or citizens of the world, have we been cooperative enough to tackle our regional or global challenges? Are some people willing to get slightly down, from their wealthy life styles, to being unselfish and cooperative? Have the less fortunate been provided opportunities so that they are capable of taking part in cooperation? This article is addressing four issues – materialism and consumerism, gender inequity, traffic accident and governance all of which are caused by a lack of intrinsic values, leading to a more imbalanced and unhealthy development.Values education and personal change are empathized as the vital factors for a sustainable development. First of all, let us explore about materialism and consumerism in Asia and the impacts they bring about.
Korea and China, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released in February, topped the poll at 69% for being the most materialistic people in the world. The figure followed by India 67% and Japan 63% while the world average is 43% (Chosun Ilbo News, 24 February 2010). Corin (2009) said “Hong Kong is a very materialistic city…
t’s a challenge to keep yourself grounded and to not get caught up in wanting to compete with others for the most expensive things. ” In Singapore, people are also known for a tendency to possess the 5 Cs – cash, car, credit card, condominium, and country club membership. Seah Chiang Nee (2007) wrote Singaporean are among the world’s best educated, yet they are also among the most materialistic people.
Due to such issue, the following are challenges that Asia faces and is going to be facing in the next decade, and more, if counter measures is not there.Human enjoys; earth suffers; human suffers… “As Consumerism Spreads, Earth Suffers, Study Says,” a title from the National Geographic News (2004), described that nearly half of the global consumers resides in developing countries, including 240 millions in China and 120 million in India, and it was expected that the number was going to expand. Although rising consumption has created employment and enriched economy, it tends to disrupt the natural resources and ecosystem (Christopher Flavin, president of Worldwatch Institute, quoted in the news). The production, processing, and consumption, of commodities requires the extraction and use of natural resources (wood, ore, fossil fuels, and water); .
.. whose operation creates toxic byproducts, while the use of commodities themselves (e. g. automobiles) creates pollutants and waste” (Anup Shah 2008).
Furthermore, consumerism and its consequent power take away potential resources that poverty-stricken people could otherwise be accessible. “The wealthiest 20% of the world accounted for 76. 6% of total private consumption.The poorest 20% consume just 1.
%” (World Bank Development Indicator 2008). “The more people pursue their material goals, the less they are happy, the lower their quality of life,” said Tim Kasser (2007), an associate professor of Psychology. He also found that they report being depressed and anxious, and they tend to behave in a manner that is more socially and ecologically damaging. He concluded that when people become materialistic, they focus less on ‘three intrinsic values’ namely 1) self acceptance or personal growth; 2) affiliation or relationships between amilies and friends; and 3) community feeling or a desire to make a broader world a better place. Furthermore, Lukas R.
Dean (2005) found that “materialism has a direct negative impact on spouses’ satisfaction with their relationship…
that higher levels of materialism are associated with lower levels of marital satisfaction for both husbands and wives…
[and] increase the sensitivity of married couples to perception of financial problems. ” Something does not yet seem to be right! Should this be the way development is?Is there a more human-friendly or eco-friendly alternative? While many countries measure their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as one of their successful economic indicator, Bhutan goes beyond that including Gross National Happiness (GNH) as their measurement of the quality of life, because: “in these changing times [our country] finds immense new challenges and opportunities, … ultimately without peace, security and happiness we have nothing. That is the essence of the philosophy of Gross National Happiness. Our most important goal is the peace and happiness of our people.
.. (His Majesty King Khesar, The 5th Druk Gyalpo of Bhutan, 2008). Our conventional cultural belief: women are inferior..
. Although generally and stereotypically Asians are described as being polite, obedient, less aggressive, and so on, we actually lack respect, when it comes to gender. When asked ‘if men should have more right to a job than a woman’ only 28. 50% of the respondents disagree to the statement, while 38.
50% agree and 33. 00% say neither. It seems ridiculous because in terms of human right, nobody has more right than the other.
It simply shows that women in Asia are more discriminated. “Millions of women in Asia are caught in a vicious cycle of illiteracy, poverty and ill health; and they lack means to raise themselves and their families out of that desperate conditions. These problems are embedded in society and traditions and cultures.
.. ” (Carol Yost, director of Women’s Empowerment Program, the Asia Foundation). Sheryl WuDunn (2010) at TED Global presented how girls are taken away from opportunities to education, get aborted before they were born, trafficked and treated unfairly in many ways.When they are given a chance, they tend to be able to help not only themselves but also their family’s economy. Yet, it is rare to invest in education for girls, she said. If we take a common ‘male female ratio’ of 105 boys and 100 girls, in Asia we have undermined almost half of our human resources and put them in vulnerable situations; and “if you’re not fully utilizing half of the talent in your country, you’re not going to get too close to the top ten” (Bill Gates, quoted in Sheryl’s talk).It needs the courage of gentlemen, especially here in Asia, to show respect to women and enable them being better educated and into decision making.
And it also takes self-respect from women themselves. Equality, valuing others, and open-mindedness are needed. Do we not think that we need to provide our human resources ‘values education’ training? Dr. Martin Luther King put it this way: “I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values…
More respect would also means less deaths… Traffic accidents take away lives of our citizens daily, part of which due to lack of ethics in driving. In 2003 in China there were as much as 285 people killed daily, India 231, Thailand 35, Vietnam 31, Indonesia 24, Japan 22, and Korea 19. In total, “every year some 1.
18 million people globally are victims of fatal road accidents, and 60% of all road accidents occur here in Asia and the Pacific,” said Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, the ADB’s Vice President.Further, “by 2030 road traffic injuries will rise to become the fifth leading cause of death, beating the rank of HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis and resulting in an estimated 2. 4 million fatalities per year” (World Health Organization). Different factors like infrastructures, law enforcement, etc, could help with reduction of such death rate. However, at personal level, respect for the law and respect for one’s own and other’s life, being humble and not showing off the speed of your luxurious car, etc are vital.
To ensure governance does not lack accountability…We need people whose conscience is not dead, to work in positions that can influence changes. Glenndale J. Cornelio (2010), from the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department, Manila, expressed how in the Philippines despite good laws, government officials tend to favor a culture of self-interest. For example, people get promoted depending on whoever is in power; and the fact that legislators are hesitant to enact a law that brings social accountability; etc.
The World Bank has designed ‘incentives nd disincentives to direct the behavior of government officials’, and even laid out specific actions. Yet, Gelnnadale believes that no reform would work, and only each and every individual has the power to influence any reform. “This requires a common thread to bind all Filipinos together – a national values education agenda that will shape Filipino society,” and “implementing values education will be a long and hard process, but it is definitely worth the investment,” said Glenndale. I believe many developing or countries in Asia share the same or similar story with this.Let us start coping now… Going back to the cell metaphor once again.
While our killer cells fight infecting microorganism at wound site, they need assistance from other cells who produce energy. Brain cells may need to think of medication to cure; and other and cells are not on holiday. In the same way, to deal with and prevent challenges, we need cooperative efforts from all levels, top down and bottom up, individual and institutional, because we are living in a system. “I change myself, I change the world,” said Gloria Anzuldua.For instance, if you turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, you can save 6 litres of water per minute, and “if everyone in the UK who currently leaves the tap running when they brush their teeth turned it off instead – we would save 446 million litres of water – enough water to supply 2. 9 million people for one day. ” This example shows how big the impact is when each of us collectively does a little act of consideration or generosity.
Finally, I would like to kindly leave the following recommendations for the policy makers, business owners, change makers, and individual citizen to consider and possibly act. . Invest in values education nationwide or region-wide. We tend to focus more on ‘learning to know’ and ‘learning to do’ so that our citizens can survive economically; yet we have forgotten another two major pillars, ‘learning to live together’ and ‘learning to be’ which also need to be strengthened, so that the four pillars of education can stand with stability.
Some school and organizations have been conducting a program called ‘Living Values’, and with my personal experience, I find this program very good and interesting.With values education, people can be oriented in a more positive way, and the following recommendations would also be more likely to be possible. 2. Invest more on education for woman and against trafficking. Involve more women in decision making process at different levels.
3. Revise the conventional GDP and study the feasibility of GNH which promotes four development factors including sustainable development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, natural environment conservation, and good governance. . Corporate cooperation: Governments should to have a policy that encourage more participation from private enterprises; for example, to fund development programs promoting ethical values, environment, or income-generation. “Governments and nonprofit groups have an irreplaceable role in helping them, but it will take too long if they try to do it alone.
It is mainly corporations that have the skills to make technological innovations work for the poor” (Bill Gates 2008).For instance, Ecosia, an eco-friendly web search engine backed by Yahoo and Bing of Microsoft, provides at least 80% of its revenue to the World Wild Fund (WWF) for a rainforest protection program. 5. Institutions whether governmental, non-governmental, educational, charitable, or private, may want to cooperate by having a ‘going green staff/students’ policy or ‘green practices for staffs’ where they can introduces some simple guidelines like turning the tap off while hand-soaping, unplug electrical cords when not in used, deleting unnecessary emails, etc.Simply consume a bit less, just the necessary. 6.
Involve more in volunteerism. It is a way to be part of the solution. It symbolizes of a start of an individual inner change. There are many voluntary activities that people can do whether locally or internationally. We can start by, for instance, simply doing a rubbish clean up campaign or looking for places or institutions that can help. The following is words of the president of America, which was meant to be a calling for a new beginning between the US and the Islamic world.If you are an atheist or if you might be of less favor of America, please take no offence; it only is meant to be finding wisdom and making use of it.
“We have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world we seek… a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all Gods children are respected…
But we can only achieve it together. ” (Obama 2009) We need values education for our citizens so they learn how to achieve together. This is an approach to get away from unhealthy development and ensure a sustainable development.