This blog Is Not About KM

Lately, it seems like there is nothing but bad news in the world. Everyday, violent deaths occur in Iraq. The Israel/Lebanon conflict just ended, with neither side the better for it. Some parts of Africa are always at war. Some parts of the Middle East are always on the brink of war. Some parts of Asia seem like they’re itching to go to war. Some parts of America have brought war onto other people’s lands. Some parts of Europe are experiencing a new kind of war that knows no borders. Natural disasters seem less natural yet more disastrous, fuelled in part by relentless industrialization. People are displaced, starving, suffering from diseases, raped, pillaged, murdered. 

There are no easy explanations for why our world seems like it would implode any day now. Our world is a complex entity inhabited by even more complex entities – us. Yet, as complex as human beings are, we think rather naively. We think “us” or “them”. We think “ours” or “yours”. We think “have” or “have not”. And because we think naively, we act naively. We act to exclude, to deprive, to power over. But more often than not, when we act to disadvantage others, we also disadvantage ourselves. Let me share with you a very simple example.

Our office occupies the third floor of a shophouse. Access to the second and third floor is via a common stairway. For more than a year and a half, the stairway was left unkempt because I had wanted to tell the tenant on the second floor that he should clean the stretch of the stairway that leads to his unit. I never figured out how to tell him that without appearing to be a mean little man, so the conversation never happened. Eventually, I hired a cleaner to clean the entire stairway. We now have a stairway that’s free of dust and cobwebs. But more importantly, I am no longer preoccupied with being irritated by our neighbour every time I walk up or down the stairs.

Yes, my story is trivial. Yes, the fault lines of our world run much deeper and longer than my stairway. But collectively as a human race we have more at stake, more to lose if we keep thinking and acting “us” or “them”. We may not like our neighbours and all that they stand for, but where else can we go? We race to get to the moon, but is it any more hospitable to human life? Our children’s children will have nowhere else to go but to stay and face our legacy to them. It is an ugly picture now, and it will most certainly be uglier come their time. And “we” are all responsible for that.

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