What would happen if …?

Few people seem to realise that our collective reality is the result of our collective thinking. The reality that any country’s citizens experience is the result of the collective thinking of that country’s citizens. The question we ask ourselves is: what would happen if those citizens changed the way they thought? Would that change their reality?

The answer is a simple, “Yes.” The answer to, “How possible is it for this to happen?” is more difficult as we can’t say with any certainty that a nation will simply change its collective thinking at will.

But, for the sake of the exercise, let’s consider three “What ifs …

  1. What if, instead of focusing on people’s skin colour, we focused on the “colour” of their values? Instead of skin colour dictating how we saw, treated and related to others, their values would be the new defining criteria.

Values reflect a person’s sense of right and wrong. If a person embraces values that include honesty, kindness, selflessness, people with those same values would embrace, and see as the same, others who had those same values, regardless of skin colour. And if someone had values of a different “colour” – dishonesty, maliciousness, selfishness – regardless if they had the same skin colour as you, you would not wish to be associated with them.

Think of how this would irrevocably change relationships across different sectors of the population: people previously defined as Black, White, Coloured, Asian would then be seen as honest, kind, selfless or as dishonest, malicious, selfish.

Would you be prepared to relate to people with the same values as yourself regardless of their skin colour or would you still prefer to identify with people of the same skin colour who had very different values?

  1. What if we focused on what we have in common with other population groups rather than on our diversity? I think it has been necessary to embrace the diversity of our people but, while that’s a good thing, maybe there’s more to it than that.

Maybe it’s time for us to realise that, regardless of the population group to which each of us belongs, those who are parents, whether in an air-conditioned office in Sandton or in a shack in Diepsloot, all want the same thing for our children – a good education, good opportunities, and a good life.

Over and over, as I have addressed many different audiences, when I make this point every parent in the room nods their head by way of agreement. If we all want the same thing for our children, why don’t we start to work together to ensure that we all get what we want for our children?

  1. To answer that question, consider a third, more difficult, “What if?”. What if we could rise to a level at which we say, “What I want for my child, I want for other children”? That would change the way we lived our lives and conducted business. It would change the way we made decisions, change the actions we take or don’t take, change the way we invest our money, and change the expectations shareholders have of companies in which they invest.

When we see that, by investing in, not just our own children, but all of our nation’s children, we are actually investing in our own future wellbeing, we will change the way we think about our contribution to society.

If you want a secure and happy retirement, it’s worth investing in a future generation so they can grow up to be competent, industrious and disciplined. After all, they will be running the economy when we’re dependent on a pension.

Imagine what our reality would change to if we could respond positively to these three “What ifs”. Impossible? A pipe dream? Maybe, but maybe we need to start recreating a positive vision for our country instead of accepting a reality being created by a default collective consciousness.

Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net, @HRFuturemag, and a professional speaker. He assists executives to prevent, reverse and delay ageing, and achieve self-mastery so that they can live and lead with greatness. 

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