Good and bad are relative
Unholy profiteering at times of crisis and strife is abominable. Save for those that cause it and those that allow it to happen, opinion is largely decided.
The collective vocal abhorrence to such acts contributes to this becoming widely discussed. Sympathies emerge and grow beyond the concerns for the self to those in hunger, want, and need. This is when the inherent goodness in mankind comes to the fore at both individual and collective levels, be it in holding hands, giving time to volunteer, donating to food banks, distributing relief, or even money.
Some like the anonymity; others the publicity. Sympathy and goodwill combined can be such a powerful tool, yet no one knows why this potent amalgamation is so sadly absent in the normal day to day life. Even before the pandemic, people went hungry, children were malnourished, and want and need existed with little done about it. That’s the outcome when collectively the goodness of man defers to the machine-like rat race.
Nature and the world have provided many second chances through the centuries. Opportunities abounded along with lessons that should have been heeded. They weren’t.
The taste of the proverbial pudding is in the eating. Tall discourses of politicians, world organizations, trans-nationals, and experts created an unreal cushion of belief in systems and processes that had been invested in.
One quirk of nature outside of the usual and the vaunted health systems, social nets, and even businesses have crashed and collapsed. There are new assurances of rebuilding and re-starting, strengthening and bolstering, without the faintest clue over where to start. More of the old? The feeble attempts at continuing in the ways as we know them, have backfired spectacularly.
Towards the end of the Second World War, the race to take Berlin was more about who between Russia and the United States would get there first. It was more about control post-conflict than total victory. The outcome of a divided Germany was the creation of the League of Nations, the beginnings of the Cold War, and the ultimate emergence of the European Union.
They all bore the hallmarks of a certain “goodness,” till the collective will of domination overcame it. The lessons of equitability, sharing were lost again. The current pandemic has offered lessons similar and much more. Apprehensions that these too are at risk of being ignored are growing.
With profiteering flourishing alarmingly and nations piling up more and more, debt politicians continue to allow “domination” to skew their vision. There’s sabre rattling in the Indian sub-continent and the South China Sea, Iran and China are commissioning sea-bases in the Middle East, and Djibouti and armaments sales are on an alarming rise.
Almost all countries are pouring money into sectors of the economy to resurrect the way things were. Ignored are the facts that so much of the old economy was fragile and unsustainable. Adversity brings with it opportunities.
Japan rose from the rubble and feudalism to become an economic powerhouse. Germany emerged from ruins to now lead Europe economically, including far-reaching reforms of labour unions. Developing countries may well ruminate over transcending from one-track progress to multi-faceted journeys in all sectors of life. Bangladesh can well consider enriching rural communities, taking the opportunity of the reverse exodus of the prodigals.
Good and bad are relative. In the present day, it is collective good that can outweigh everything and perhaps make lives more bearable and freer from want and need as far as the basics are concerned. At the risk of being sacrilegious, that does, of course, include tolerability of wrong-doing.
Mahmudur Rahman is a writer, columnist, broadcaster, and communications specialist.