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BARBICAN LIFE


French sophisticate, as it sounds, but an old man in India fighting a corrupt government). On 5th April 2011, Hazare started a hunger strike: he wants an independent ombudsman to deal with public corruption issues.


The communal noticeboard at the ‘Occupy’ campsite outside St. Paul’s Cathedral Photo by


Lawrence Williams


Kisan Bapu Baburao (‘Anna’) Hazare. Picture courtesy


Wikimedia Commons


to that particular society: God who was so sacred as to have been hitherto hidden in the ‘holy of holies’ in the inner temple, had apparently been born to a young unwed woman, in an open manger, in the middle of a town overflowing with all manner of people, who were being counted at the Imperial census. Kings crossed the desert and Shepherds came down from the local hillsides, to welcome the baby. Valuable gifts were left in a humble manger, while the local potentate was plotting infanticide – more than merely uncomfortable. Perhaps we should all take a moment to look at what ‘shakes’ us. Thank you Canon Fraser – we will try.


But that takes courage and like many others, I avoided jumping in, by adopting what I thought was a ‘middle road’ – I started to follow a discussion in a TED ‘discussion group’ – ‘are integrity and living with values a thing of the past ? There are so many scams these days, so many corrupt officials…’ This particular Indian girl (who started this public conversation) clearly needs to join Anna Hazare’s team, I thought (no, not a


A model of the Tabernacle showing the holy place, and behind it the holy of holies – picture by Daniel Ventura courtesy Wikimedia Commons.


Not a great deal changes after all - Bentham was writing about "sinister interest" in the 18th century, of the powerful conspiring against a wider public interest. I was heartened to read more than once, that living by values and having integrity is a thing of the FUTURE not the past – today, we need to do so even more than ever. There are management books being written on why and how the more ethical company wins. The press was blamed widely for our perception of the ills of the world – we are learning from each other how to be


professors - This woman from India has sparked an international outpouring of more than 3000 comments, from people from all walks of life. My discomfort arises from a possibility of mixed motives: The very fact that it has been going on for several months says something about our common condition. We need to talk to one another – and modern technology is enabling us to ‘talk’ to people who we won’t ever know. We can do it instantly, and the fact that it is somehow ‘in public’, puts a strange twist to it – are we advertising our inner selves, in the guise of honestly exchanging opinions ? Possibly. I can’t feel quite comfortable about it. Why it is suddenly all right to ‘broadcast’ my views to the world, as if what I think should matter to anyone ? Am I going to fall into the trap of thinking that these are now my ‘friends’ – facebook style ? A call from an old college friend at this point put my mind at rest – no, those are people who share your personal history.


What I found amongst the opinions


expressed in this ‘conversation’ was astonishingly varied – but the most engaging was the delight of a Mr Menon (somewhere near Dallas) who enthused about the very fact of what the internet has achieved : he explained that he can consult his client base, talk to his 90 year old mother in India every evening and participate in an international life from the comfort of his study – isn’t this


paranoid, and distrustful. Note to myself : must look into whether there is any academic evidence that paranoia may be contageous.


A discussion group can’t be too


uncomfortable, I told myself : these are just messages on a computer screen. It turned out to be so much more. What


happened has delighted, astonished and troubled me. It has educated me, and annoyed me not a little. It has informed my discomfort, and made me look at the bigger picture, inevitably. It has, somewhat paradoxically, made me rejoice in the very simplicity of the day to day . Let me explain:


What delighted me was the variety of contributors – businessmen, teachers, computer experts, life coaches, doctors, psychoanalysts, philanthropists and


10


astonishing ? I agreed wholeheartedly – it is indeed.


I was uplifted by the following contribution: Kathy Hilsinger Walliser from the United States said : “Those of us who live by values are obligated to demonstrate by our own choices and personal successes that integrity wins over corruption; values rooted in timeless truths triumph over temporary gains of the moment. We can do this if we each commit ourselves to


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