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mardi 7 septembre 2010

I am around people who are self made in the business world, junior executives, partners, lawyers, accountant chiefs, and absolutely dislike their collective aim that bottom line is Money.
Once sitting next to a passenger who spent the entire Madrid to New York flight in Business Class typing away at his computer and was told that he was in Valencia for one week and had no time to leave the hotel and conference room. Another time was asked by a lady, again in the Business First section of Continental Airlines flight to Europe: where do you get time to read? I have not read a book in years, as if it is a badge of honour.
Somewhere or other I have heard this. Why don't these people, buy themselves a plot in the cemetery and lie down for death to arrive. They are already dead, the event would occur later on.
The following are some of sentences that I absolutely DETEST
I am very busy; I have no time.
I am not responsible (for anything that happens in the society you live in) (all Nazi criminals at the Nuremberg trials said: I am not responsible. Who was responsible for using newborn infants for football practice?)
I have no time, and then I have no time to learn or read, I have no time to help another person, I have no time to pay attention to my soul
And you say to yourself, why should I do all these anyway, I am already dead, waiting for that cask?
I am never impressed with material gifts and in fact I see Gifts in society as a form of binding each other to some social mores. I have never seen this tribal behaviour (read the first and one of the first field workers in Anthropology Malinowski and his book on Tobriand Islanders), in France than anywhere else. The gifts are already prescribed, what and when and where and how, the brands and the price selected out and the equality of the gift to suit your social class… this form of gift giving is one without a soul rendering of a part of yourself.
To me, the gifts given by the girls of chaungtha beach, which they treasured for some time, saved up their money or time making it, is more priceless. I ask people not to give me Christmas presents and hide my birthday so that I wont be burdened with presents. Don't get me wrong I am not a stingy man who does not want to spend money like in the classic tale of Yule, but the pleasure is in the spontaneity, the time spent in choosing the gift and most of all the best gift is the gift of time. People spending time with me, a friend of mine very close to my heart, takes time of her busy schedule when I visit her country, because as she says: if you have taken time off to travel to my country, the least I can do is to take time off to be with you!
I also remember a young doctor asking me, we never meet any one interesting. I asked her, do you think any interesting person would like to meet you?
You have to be an interesting person to attract other interesting persons
How do you become an interesting person? When you have time, devote it to become an interesting person. When you don't have time, you don't have time to become an interesting person
To become an interesting person, you have to do interesting things when you have time and preferably when you are young.
The social plight of the Cambodians living in Vietnam attracts my attention, where as you may say it is not my problem. The students I teach Medicine, are often bored when I tell them who was the person who described Graves Disease or Addison’s Disease or Crohn's Disease or many other interesting events in the grand profession we have chosen. That does not help me become a better doctor said one. I have one right handy to answer, one Indian told me that only good people will become good doctors and it is not the education that makes you become a good doctor.
This can be applied to lawyers and account executives and all others who have no human touch in their profession. I would rather enjoy watching a lady selling baguettes in a French bakery than watching an account executive on her Blackberry in New York!
To be a whole, you have to be socially responsible. That is what the Indians have taught me. It is not an either or question. You can be an account executive and be a socially responsible person.
The metaphor for a predatory executive in business or profession (including Doctors) who says he donates money to his favourite charity and that he supports street children of Addis Ababa or has a foster child in Guatemala (things to make your conscience feel better), that metaphor is thus.
A drug dealer in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, kills, maims, and makes widows and orphans without a squint in his eyes but claims that he is running a day care centre or a home for the elderly. That is good but does not dissolve him of his primary social injustice, that he is committing himself to make the society worse than before. Each of us, accountant or not, CEO or otherwise, lawyer or doctor, should ask ourselves, is my work such that it does not contribute to the betterment of the society. You may think you are not contributing to the worsening of the social conditions just by not doing anything but your work would involve some actions against diversity, transparency. Should you transfer your on call services to India to a call centre where there is one suicide a month? Are you responsible? Should you deal with people who try not to pay taxes? Is it good for the society to do that?
We are all in it together, whether doctors or judges or money counters or garbage collectors, of economic filth and emotional scarring.

This note is dedicated to my friend Cissa de A of Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Happy Independence Day Brasil 7 Sept 1822