Few people seem to realise that our collective reality is the result of our collective thinking. Translated into the here and now, that means that the reality that any country’s citizens are experiencing is the result of the collective thinking of that country’s citizens. The question we should therefore ask ourselves is: what would happen if those citizens started changing the way they thought? Would that change their reality?
The answer is a simple, “Yes.” The answer to the question, “How possible is it for this to happen?” is a little more difficult to answer because one can’t say with any certainty that a nation will simply change its collective thinking at will.
But, for the sake of the exercise, let’s consider three “What if?”s …
1. What if, instead of focusing on the colour of people’s skin, we instead focused on the “colour” of their values? That would mean that, instead of skin colour being used as a defining criteria for how we saw, treated and related to people, their values would be the new defining criteria for how we see, treat and relate to them.
Values reflect a person’s sense of right and wrong. If a person has embraced values that include honesty, kindness, selflessness and so forth, people with those same values would embrace, and see as the same, others who had those same values regardless of their skin colour. And if someone had values of a different “colour”, such as dishonesty, maliciousness and selfishness, regardless of if they have the same skin colour as you or not, you would not wish to be associated with them, simply because you do not share their values.
Think about how this would irrevocably change relationships across the different sectors of the population, as people who had previously been defined as Black, White, Coloured and Asian are now seen as honest, kind and selfless (to use the three previous examples) or as dishonest, malicious and selfish.
Would you be prepared to relate to people with the same values as yourself regardless of their skin colour or would you still prefer to identify with people of the same skin colour as you who had very different values?
2. What if we focused on what we have in common with other population groups rather than focused on our diversity. Don’t get me wrong, I think it has been very necessary to embrace the diversity of our people but, while that’s been a good thing, maybe there’s more to it than that.
Maybe it’s time for us to realise that, regardless of the population group to which each of us belongs, those of us who are parents, whether we work in an air conditioned office in Sandton or sit in a shack in Diepsloot, all want the same thing for our children – a good education, good opportunities, and a good life.
Over and over, as I have addressed many different audiences, when I make this point every parent in the room nods their head by way of agreement. If we all want the same thing for our children, why don’t we start to work together to ensure that we all get what we want for our children?
3. To answer that question, we have to consider a third, more difficult, “What if?”. What if we were able to rise to a level at which we can say, “What I want for my child, I want for other children”? That would change the way we lived our lives and conducted business. It would change the way we made decisions, change the actions we took or didn’t take, change the way we invested our money, and change the expectations shareholders had of the companies in which they have invested.
When we come to see that, by investing in not just our own children but all of our nation’s children, we are actually investing in our own future wellbeing, we will change the way we think about our contribution to society.
If you want a secure and happy retirement, it’s worth investing in a future generation so they can grow up to be competent, industrious and disciplined. After all, they will be the ones running the economy when we’re dependent on a pension.
Imagine what our reality would change to if we could respond positively to these three “What if?”s. Impossible? A silly pipe dream? Maybe, but maybe we need to start recreating a positive vision for our country instead of accepting a reality that is being forced on us by people from all population groups who do not share constructive values.
Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net, @HRFuturemag, and a professional speaker. He assists executives to prevent, reverse and delay ageing, and achieve self-mastery so that they can live and lead with greatness.