Fairness is a universal value. So why all this inequity?
Are we trying to solve too many problem with technological solutions?
Trained as a physician and epidemiologist, Dr. Monica Sharma worked for the United Nations from 1988 to 2010. As director of Leadership and Capacity Development at the United Nations and in other large-scale programs UNDP and UNICEF, she designed programs for whole systems transformation and leadership development world-wide.
Monica Sharma: We've generally worked on problems by looking at how can we solve the problem. But that's very much a fix it mindset. Here's a problem and what can we do to solve it? And technology, advances in technology, have enabled us to do that. And is that important? Of course it is. It's necessary but it's not sufficient. So how can we solve problems in an enduring way, in an equitable way, in a way where nobody really loses? Because too often we look at an issue from a scarcity mindset and frankly we have an abundant planet and we have people with so much creativity, can we engage that way differently? So that's what this journey is about, awakening the space within me and within everybody else. And it's about awakening and articulating what we see through our pattern mind. And third, it's about solving problems through that space. It's not about fixing it.
And what's amazing is that people have innate attributes worldwide and neuroscience and recent research shows that. What we can see is that human beings have a sense of self, their own self-worth which we often talk about as dignity. So, they have a sense of self worldwide. It doesn't matter whether we are rich or we are poor, whether we follow any faith or whether we vote for a particular political party. This transcends all those divides the social isms that we've created.
So basically the sense of self-worth exists and the sense of fairness exists worldwide. And so very often to people ask me what is it that there's so much inequity in the world and you say that we have an innate sense of fairness. In fact Oxfam did a study in the U.S. and they found that 92 percent of people actually believe that fairness is important. How great is that? So then people would say how come there's so much inequity? I think a lot of the inequities stems from our understanding of what we need. Much of that is promoted through creating demand for things we actually don't need through a consumerism that's extremely materialistic. And this work is about touching that space.
And this work is also about the third attribute, and that is compassion. What we know now is that people are not only functioning from their emotional state, what neuroscientists or a physician will call our limbic system. And our emotional reactions, not that emotion is not important, it's important, but we have a higher consciousness and activating that consciousness that exists in everyone everywhere, and I can give you many, many stories from around the world about that, when we activate that space of our higher consciousness we bring to bear our innate sense of self, our sense of fairness, our compassion. So compassion there's a lovely Sanskrit descriptive word, Sanskrit is a base language of India and a Sanskrit word karuna. And karuna means my universal heart of love has broken open and I'm called to act. I cannot just pass by what's not working and say well it doesn't serve my personal interest. No. I'm called to act. So for me tapping into the spaces worldwide, which is our inner capacity, our sense of self, our sense of fairness, our knowing of compassion, this has been the way we've created change worldwide and it's worked. We have results in every sector.
- Technology has given humanity the amazing ability to fix almost any problem, conditioning us to search for technological remedies to what might be social problems.
- Alleviating social inequity is a problem that technology must necessarily attempt to solve, but technology alone cannot shape how humans assemble their societies.
- Only by emphasizing the primary place of individual identity, human dignity, and universal values like empathy and emotion, can we hope to solve global issues that, so far, technology has been unable to conquer.
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- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.