Any man will say that his main concern is how to protect his family. And he will be right, the breadwinner who goes to work in the morning and comes back in the evening, tired but with daily bread and confidence in the future. It is the canonical image of a man-hero. How can we argue about that? Every woman breams of such a protector of her home and children. After all, it makes no difference where he goes in the morning and how he earns his living, whether he is a warrior or a thief.
Many years ago I was visiting a small island in Thailand. One day I came across a young monk who was sitting on a mat right on the road. There were gifts around him: bottles with water, soy milk, oranges. I also brought some gifts to him and we got into a conversation. It turned out that a recruit hung himself in that very place recently. As the place was quite crowded the monk came to clean it, so as its bad karma did not pass on to passers-by. “How long have you been sitting here?” “A month”. “And for how long will you be staying here”? “Till I feel that it has been purified”.
I felt awkward about being close to him as I realized that I was unable to do the same, to be so far-seeing, to think about others. And what is most important – to live for the good of all living beings.
At the dawn of my career I was living a typical life: for the good of myself and my family. As a man I was concerned only about two issues: size and firmness. It was the size of my salary and a firm voice when naming my employer. It was a great, prestigious name with the line of activity being of no importance.
First doubts appeared when I was working for a large fast-food network in the USA. One day during the lunchtime I noticed a black American mother sitting with her heavy hips on a bench. Obesity is not uncommon in the Middle West, but I was touched as I saw her stuffing French fries with ketchup into the mouth of her one-year old girl. All of a sudden the life and death of that girl flashed in my mind. And I was scared. It seemed as if it was me who was stuffing her mouth with potatoes, turning her tender body into a heap of flabby folds of fat.
Since that moment I became a different person. I began to see more. The company’s bakery was now more like a huge chemical plant, an inhuman system of “ingredients” stocking. At the annual stockholders' meeting an animal protection activist showed a video filmed in a slaughterhouse where they hide agonizing cows to speed up the process of cutting. For what? To make a hamburger cheaper for the benefit of customers. How nice of them! The activist was turned out of the meeting and the case was hushed up.
I was far away fr om taking up the position. I was engaged in the finance sector believing that it all was not my concern. Still, the fact remains. I put my brains, my effort, time, education into that mother’s possibility to poison her baby. And I didn’t care a straw that it was her choice. I helped her to make that choice. I brought home money but did not say a word to my wife, trying to forget that by giving health to my family I took it away from that girl. I was a member of the ’’ criminal group’’ that in the modern oblivious society is with servility called “a billion corporation”.
We leave for work in the morning for the good of our families taking it away from the other ones. We compete, struggle, conquer, take in and subdue. Men are born to be creators but seldom do they create. More often they fight and rob.
Once we do not create new, it means that we reallocate or, in other words, steal from the weaker ones. Poor naïve people, children, animals, plants, water and earth – they all become objects of looting. We are sacking while sitting in the office and bring it home like war trophies, naming the loot as prosperity and security. And our women with admiration call us breadwinners and heroes.
The President of Nestle is a model man by modern standards. He is head of the water empire. Actually, he stands for turning water into private property, for taking away all drinking water on the planet and selling it back to us. And he adds that his main concern is to take care of his shareholders, of his workers and their families – all in all 4.5 million people.
Indeed, what a paternal care for the benefit of a big family.
Nonetheless, one cannot live for the good of his family at the expense of others, whether it is a large or a small one, however long will he hide behind the walls of his warm house. We will have to pay, if not now, then later…if not we, then our children. The world has become too small. Our houses swell with material prosperity, while our Earth, our schools and our hearts are turning into empty deserts.
Or have I had it all wrong? May be just on the contrary, we are getting stronger and smarter, striving for the progress, exchanging the Amazon forests for building wood? A friend of mine, a clever man, a genius, a worthy husband and father, has been working for a fast food giant for many years already. I asked him: “When we were young, we did not see an inch before our noses. But now, we are grown-up men. Don’t you feel an internal conflict because of participation in the deployment of weapons of mass destruction”? He said: “You do not understand. At my level we are dealing with issues that exceed the limits of the burger. We are ruling over the demographic processes, we are not far off unique discoveries”. He is right, I really do not understand anything, not a single word.
At the end of my corporative career I gave headhunters a list of sectors wh ere I did not want to work: natural resources, chemistry, food industry, banks - nearly all of the modern economy. It is clear that I didn’t find a job. But in spite of it, the number of such people is growing, even in Russia. They are resigning their positions in commerce and civil service, they sacrifice their salaries, they take up positions in charity and nonprofit organizations, they start their companies, societies and there is nothing personal or private there, it is a matter of common good. And they are united by responsibility not only for their families but also for their country, for the planet and for something lofty.
There are not enough monks in Thailand to clean our karma. Now it is not enough to just protect our families, who have become hostages of our war. It is time not to produce and work but to create. Let the woman ask her man when seeing him off in the morning: “Who are you working for”? As he turns round, thinking of the monk on the road, saying: “I am working for the good of all living beings”.