Uneasy about "My Way"

November 2010

It seems to me that researchers dealing with global warming, as well as other issues generally considered to be key global concerns, invariably face an ethical dilemma. The issue is how to account for why the research they do is more important than addressing the many other anomalies and challenges throughout the world.

In the past, Mahatma Gandhi exhorted members of the Indian Parliament to propose new policies only after they had called to mind the faces of the poorest people they had ever met and thought about what effect their policies would have on those people. Yet how many researchers are engaging in their research, or living their lives, with this level of awareness, I wonder?

Of course, we can all make some sort of contribution to improving a situation in the long term, or indirectly. However, there are also many people who make great sacrifices to take more direct action. Whilst I can't help feeling that things would not necessarily improve even if everybody were to do the same, perhaps this is just evading the issue. Then again, I could argue that at least I am contributing more than many others, but that too is only relative and doesn't really address the question head-on. Perhaps one could even criticise the validity of posing the question in the first place. Life is not about straightforward choices between one thing or another, and in fact, many people find it difficult to make choices about how to live their lives. There are plenty of people who are not aware of what is going on in the world as a whole, and it would be unreasonable to insist that being unaware is in itself wrong. Still, the fact is that in the present "information age" it is possible to find out about anything if one actually wants to.

Perhaps in the end all we can do is take a stand in life and tell ourselves "I am not Gandhi; I have my own path to follow", which would essentially mean that taking a stand is what life is all about. Yet, in doing so, I believe we should also continue to feel somewhat ashamed. That is why, although I like "Comme d'Habitude", the original version of the song "My Way", whenever I hear the English version, shame andanger combine with a touch of envy to make me feel uneasy.

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