Monday, 7 May 2012

Boiling the Frog

I am sure we have heard about the moral behind the story anecdote of boiling the frog. It goes by arguing that if we throw a frog into a boiling water it will jump out of the water but if we place a frog in a nice cold water and heat it up slowly, the frog will enjoy the warming water and will fall asleep and realises the danger when it is already cooked.

Whether or not it is really an anecdote or just a fiction, there is something to learn from it. The lesson is simply that we will eventually suffer from a gradual change if we choose to ignore it's consequences. Worse if we were not able to detect the change due to our ignorant attitude.

In a fast changing world, change is inevitable. In fact many people has argued that the only constant is change itself. Change could happen in many dimensions, not just in technological terms as what many of us are familiar with. It could happen in our social structure, business practices and many more aspects which affect our lives.

If we look at what the Americans and Europeans are experiencing now, they have themselves to be blamed. These developed economies have been living beyond their means for far too long, perhaps believing that their successes in the past could be repeated in the future without much efforts. I don't have problem with them if they want to sustain their standards of living. The challenge is that somebody has to pay for it and if there is no other party that is doing that, they have to be the payers. Without real productivity, they will be eating out the capital that they had built over the years. Given the growth in other markets with lower production cost such as China, Brazil and Russia, the centre of global growth is slowly but surely shifting from the economies which used to lead the world. Interestingly, the demand of goods produced by the emerging economies were created by the hunger of the developed economies, financed primarily through debts.

What could we learn from the Americans and Europeans? Well, to me we should not be living based on whatever little success that we had in the past. We need to pay for the kind of life that we want. If we are lazy, eventually, time will catch up with us. There is no such thing as guaranteed rights or privileges. We can't blame others for our own weaknesses. We need to accept that change will continue to happen and we have to positively respond to it. Otherwise, we could end up being cooked like the frog.

Unfortunately, some changes require the mass to change. This is where in most cases involving societies, change would never be easy. By nature, most of us are selfish, we think about ourselves more than our concern towards others or the society at large. Unless or until something come knocking our heads, not many would be willing to move from our comfort zone and do something different. We could even feel that those advocating for change are traitors if  we are the benefactors from the status quo, despite knowing that our lifestyles may not be sustainable without significant change. 

Whether or not change is required, in what ever aspects of our lives, depends on the facts before us. We could accept or ignore those facts. However, such ignorance could cost us dearly, the only question is when. It could come later and our children or their children would eventually foot the bill. However, I am not surprised if many of us could not be bothered as that would not be their problem, they could already be 6 feet underground by that time. It is going to be the problem of their children and grandchildren! What's the problem?

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