A few days ago, I was reading an article in a leading publication on “Disruptive Forces” that are changing the Financial Services industry. A quick Google search revealed that almost all the leading “Consulting” experts are using more or less the same wordage, cautioning providers of financial services that they must adapt to, and adopt emerging technologies to “either disrupt or get disrupted”. This clamour has helped bring back memories of dire warnings respecting the impending Y2K (Year 2000) scare at the turn of this century bandied about by “experts”; much ado about nothing, as it turned out. However, this time around there appears to be little doubt that rapidly evolving digital technologies are enabling, among other things, the capture and usage of data in ways that will allow the “owners” of this new treasure trove to not just transform business processes but predict and effectively shape consumer behavior. We are already experiencing this online, aided by Amazon and others.
It is not the subject matter but the expression “disruptive” that is vexing. Perhaps such language is a sign of the times, as fear seems to dictate how we now live our lives. An entire lexicon has been created to subconsciously reiterate the subliminal emotions of angst, distrust, anxiety and ultimately anger. Walls are erected and flotillas sailed to try and keep “them” out because they are not like “us”. We “fight” cancer or even a common cold and “beat” and “annihilate” our opponents, even if in a friendly sporting tournament. It is therefore only natural that our sports teams are named after rapacious predators like “Jaguars”, “Cougars” and “Raptors” etc., (although Maple Leafs is the gentler exception that readily and happily comes to mind.) At work, “A” type personalities may be able to command attention, but not respect necessarily. Those with a gentler demeanor are usually accepted with a condescending smile suggesting that while wonderful souls, they do not possess what it takes – an assertive, aggressive mindset – to get things done.
At school, toddlers are reminded daily that “sharing is caring” when they try to assert ownership over a particular toy that another kid also wants. Somewhere along the path to adulthood we tend to lose sight of this message and the paradigm shifts to a more self-serving behavior pattern. The gaming industry helps generate armies of potential battle-ready combatants who feel able to destroy entire neighborhoods and peoples from the comfort of their couch without ever having to face their enemy. Not quite the Rules of Engagement that are now blatantly ignored, after being developed for “civilized” warfare (an oxymoron, if ever one was needed!) It is now easier to just extend the game to a school yard, using real weapons.
India had a dynastic king Ashoka The Great, who ruled a vast kingdom some 300 years Before Christ. A very aggressive and ruthless monarch he slaughtered his brothers to accede to the throne after their father’s death. Ashoka remained victorious in all his military campaigns and expanded his borders from Iran-Afghanistan in the northwest to Myanmar in the west and Sri Lanka in the south. Only the kingdom of Kalinga (present day state of Orissa) alluded him. Ashoka personally led a ferocious campaign to subjugate Kalinga; after winning the battle, he ordered the annihilation of entire cities and put to sword thousands of people, including what would today be called “collateral damage”. It is said that when he personally visited the battlefield on the day after his victory, he was overwhelmed by the sight of smouldering ruins, carcasses of humans and animals covering the landscape and cries of the wounded that rent the air. Even after returning to his capital city he could not bring himself to accept the magnitude of anguish he had caused. He took a vow to never cause pain and suffering to any living being and converted to Buddhism.
Wonder what Ashoka would have thought about his conversion if he was around today to see Rohingyas being massacred by those professing to be the followers of the most peaceful religious order? It is unfair to use just this one example, as this intolerance is now rampant across all denominations.
In his following sher, Urdu poet Muzzafar RazmiI reminds us that:
|Ye jabr bhī dekhā hai tārīḳh kī nazroñ ne||This too have the eyes of history been coerced into witnessing|
|lamhoñ ne ḳhatā kī thī sadiyoñ ne sazā paa.ī||(that) moments committed the follies for which centuries were punished|
The aftermath of Christchurch’s tragedy offers hope.