3 August 2014

Reflecting on the news over the last few months it feels more than ever like we’re living in a world of stark, sometimes uncomfortable contrasts.

Why is it that some of us get to enjoy the fast pace of technological innovation and the freedom of speech while others are left to fall by the wayside without any of the same benefits? Why is it that some countries are tranquil waters, yet others seem to froth over like the pool at the bottom of a waterfall?

You can have all the technological developments in the world. However, it doesn’t mean they’re necessarily going to get used for the right reasons, nor does it mean they’re going to get distributed fairly across the globe.

In life, you get what you focus on, and at the moment I think you could argue that the leaders and senior officials of so many countries across the whole world aren’t focussing on the right things. It’s sad really. Is the world missing the likes of a Nelson Mandela? I think it is and it makes you wonder who is able to steady the ship.

It seems that politicians are under more pressure to remain popular and to stay in power. They’re almost puppets to the press these days. Rather than fixing the biggest problems first and fixing them immediately, we seem to make tweaks that maybe make us popular, but really we need to be trying to help all the countries in the world to stop fighting and talk about a peaceful resolution.

I’m not saying this is easy. The very nature of so many conflicts and the emotion inherent in them makes it completely the opposite. You’ve got different cultures and different beliefs, and ingrained anger that goes back thousands of years in some cases, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying. In fact, I don’t think we try hard enough sometimes.

There’s a saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I would ask whether we’re actually allowing the right people to be running our countries, and not just in Britain – this is a global issue. And what is the single biggest way to fix all of this? Education! Education, and not just in our own country, we should be helping other countries to educate too. That’s the answer, the secret – not providing people with fish but teaching them how to catch their own.

It’s also important that we educate ourselves and others about what’s going on in the world we live in.  Journalists who risk life and limb to bring you the truth from places like Gaza need commending. With some world leaders trying to brush unpleasantries under the carpet – things that are so plainly obvious, its worth remembering there is nowhere to hide in today’s society because the internet makes things so transparent. In a split second, imagery can be sent anywhere in the world.

So what should leaders be doing?

A primary objective of leadership is honesty. Whether you’re leading a business or a family, everything is about honesty.

You have to look at the mistakes you make as a person. If a country makes a mistake, somebody within that company has made a decision and they need to hold their hands up and say, “I messed up”, and work out how to never make that mistake again. And it doesn’t matter how upset you feel, your actions have to be proportionate.

Yes, there are pockets of unrest in certain places in the world, but is aggression a solution for aggression? It’s also important to consider that it might be the minority stirring up hate and trouble, but surely the way to fix that is education.

We’re only on this planet for a very short amount of time so whatever happens, this unrest can die out. It can have a finite lifespan. The way to stop it is to make sure that the people coming through afterwards, the new generations, have no interest in this.

We should be using our armies to build bridges and irrigating deserts and helping rebuild communities. Globally, we should all be taking responsibility for the poorest corners of the world. Imagine if, every year, the worst part of the world was improved so that the global standard of living moved up a notch each time.

Ultimately, I think the global standard of living is the yardstick we should measure ourselves by. Do the technological advancements we’re making mean as much when there are so many people unable to access or afford them?

If there are children starving somewhere in some pocket of the planet, can we really call ourselves a civilised nation?

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