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Bon Journal

The bigger picture

So caught up are we in the nitty-gritties of daily survival that we forget the bigger picture.

At work, that is surely one way management can hold on to staff. Keep them so busy in their work that they have no time to wonder about the bigger picture.

At home, the micro elements prevent curiosity and temptation from settling in. If you're worried about paying your bills, why would you worry about the system?

Who wonders about the bigger picture? Academics and intellectuals? Idealists? People with time on their hands?

Only when we can free ourselves from debt and obligation, can we start seeing the bigger picture. An American living in England told me recently that he was disappointed in his countrymen. He felt they voted with their wallets rather than with their hearts. If people have ends to meet, they would not speak their minds, he said.

If this is true, then only the rich and idle could afford to see and think the bigger picture.

It's been shown that local optimisation will not be as effective as global optimisation. That is the rationale for the Kyoto Protocol - that countries could trade with each other to reduce carbon emissions - rather than rely on individual domestic policies. It has also been shown that multi-pollutant reduction strategies are more effective and efficient than piecemeal attempts at reducing each pollutant independently.

Yet, in our busy daily lives, if we have only the time and capability to care for ourselves, we can hardly see beyond ourselves. Why would I ask if anybody else would like what I don't want when it's easier to throw it away? Why would I share a ride when it's easier to take a taxi? Why would I find out if what I want is available in-house when it's easier to just get a new one? Have we all become so independent and individualistic that the effort to share and communicate is not worthwhile? Or is the local picture bigger than we can handle?

15 June 2001