Please suspend your judgment, until the end. As this could be a turning point––making you an ambassador for positive change in your area. There are two divergent philosophical questions that determine a path towards perishing or towards survival.
“What is there for me?”
The term: “What is there for me?” appears good; viewed as promoting patriotism, when applied to a nation. With such people, an area or country can be viewed as fortunate and considered blessed. Albeit, for a short period. Good leaders cannot last for a long time. However, as such people focus more on what benefits them, than other people, they help develop two dichotomies known in this world; the rich and the poor. The poor are perceived as not hard-working, experiencing the brunt of laziness. The rich are shrewd and hard-working, accordingly attracting admiration from the indolent ones.
A cautious individual invests on resources and works diligently to benefit his/her country or family. Such individuals are heroes in their own circumstances. They are the foundation of what causes the so-called developed countries, optimizing the resources to sufficiently cater for their own people. Careful analysis, however, reveals that such kind of behaviour is laden with devastating effects, threatening the survival of humankind. Vices such as envy, resentment, greed, bitterness, generating endless wars emanate from this kind of behaviour, leading to all world troubles.
Also, any country producing sufficiently for its own citizens, suffers consequences when some disaster, like famine, strikes in that area. Bear in mind that other countries would be preoccupied in harnessing resources for their own citizens. Others would be unable to pitch up on need for possible help to those trapped in some disaster, for instance.
We are looking for solutions that alleviate human problems, as known to exist today. The question: “What is there for me?” produces answers that are associated with self-centredness. While it is worth noting that there can never be anything like absolute rightness, or absolute wrongness, nevertheless, where more focus is on self, more problems exist in corresponding degree, in any given situation. The person driven by the question: “What is there for me?” Gets the opposite of what would be desired.
“What is there for other people?”
The champion of this philosophy is Jesus Christ, as He declared: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28 NIV). This behaviour is associated with altruism.
True followers of Jesus would have no problem with altruism. Service is the key. One loses sleep; expending energy and other resources, for the purpose of serving other people. That person would not be preoccupied with the question: “What is there for me?” But with the question: “What is there for other people?” When carefully checking how workable this behaviour is, all solutions to human problems get handled. Ideally, each person survives for other people, with little consideration for own survival. This pictures a utopian pattern that cannot be matched with anything known to have existed on the entire planet. Jesus demonstrated how workable this behaviour is.
His name is revered by many today, because of His commitment to serving others without putting emphasis on own survival. While others maintain that Jesus did this, due to Him being supernatural, such behaviour is workable to anyone choosing to follow His foot-steps. Jesus is the only example of what service entails, with unquestionable positive results, in fulfilling personal desires.
The number of the so-called less privileged in society is reduced by concentrating on solving other people’s problems. Each person becomes another person’s keeper. When adopted, this culture changes the world upside down, bringing smiles to many people’s faces.
In Shona language we have the saying: “Nhamo ye umwe hairamwirwe sadza.” Literally translated; “another person’s problem is no reason for fasting.” This phrase must have been adopted from a culture that assumes that problems get avoided when turning a blind eye to other people’s problems.
Evil triumphs only when good people prefer to do nothing against such problems. Imagine the so-called “good people” standing aloof when a reprobate molests a helpless young woman? Such people taking comfort in the cliché; “mind your own business.” Yet allowing the culture of such inhumane behaviour to develop in that environment?
When evil has reached its dangerous climax, the charismatic church leaders then take comfort––reminding congregants on how evil the world has become. The cowed congregants find good reason to constantly remain under the protection of their revered religion. They get encouraged to pray harder, yet without doing anything to influence positive change in such circumstances.
But Christians have a responsibility to be the light (Matt 5:13-14). Within a period of three and a half years, Jesus left a legacy that all peace-loving people adopt in making a difference in this wild world. Life is meaningful, only when others benefit from one’s endeavours. It is a question of “what is there for other people?” Not necessarily, “what is there for me?” if one is to make a positive difference.
Albert Einstein is attributed for having given another definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting different results. Indeed, this applies when some people desire goodness, yet constantly doing what leads to the opposite direction.
The new civilization demands a new pattern in handling issues in our world. The mind-set should be: “What can I do to serve other people better?” Not, “What can I do to receive more benefits?” These two questions are as different as light is to darkness.
Andrew Masuku the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, which lays down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into becoming a model to other countries worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social instability. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabwean readers will find the book to be a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.