Every now and then something happens in the world that makes you completely re-think your job and how you go about your daily life. In this article I want to look at 8 world events that made me change the way I looked at my work – sometimes with a very harsh lesson.
1. September 11th Terror Attack
No body in my generation will ever forget this day. It was our “Kennedy Assassination”. It changed the course of the world forever. I remember sitting on the couch with my breakfast and turning on the television just in time to see the second plane hit the second tower. I was terrified and deeply saddened as if I automatically knew what the Bush Administration was about to do in response to this tragedy.
September 11 taught me that life can end at anytime. Even when you think your day is going to be a boring normal day at the office a terrorist attack could come and take it all away in an instant. Don’t waste another moment in a job you hate.
2. Bush getting RE-elected
As if it wasn’t bad enough the first time, the American people re-elected George Bush after a first term that made history’s worst presidents look like gods.
This is a man who went to war with Iraq with shaky legal grounds, vetoed bills that your elected representatives had approved, passed polices that stripped you of your rights, etc. His worst crime, however, was the Congressional speech where he stated: “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.” This statement polarized the world and the most importantly the US Media. Everyone was now too afraid to report anti-Bush news for fear of being labeled “terrorist supporters”. Without an impartial media a democracy simply cannot function.
This re-election caused me to lose a lot of hope. I remember sitting with my friend eating lunch when this happened and remarking that we should just pack up and go and live out in the wild like vagabonds because the world is doomed. A little dramatic perhaps but it seemed like a good idea at the time.
I sincerely pray that Bush’s successor turns the US in a new direction; a direction far different to where Bush is taking it.
3. The Boxing Day Tsunami
When the Boxing Day Tsunami happened I was in India on a work holiday. All of the carnage was happening only a few miles away and there was nothing I could do to help. My friends and I sat in our hotel room all day and watched on TV as the waves rolled in over cities and as the death toll climbed from 1000 to 10,000 to 225,000. It was the biggest natural disaster of our lifetimes.
Through all of the death and sadness there was some good. Communities rallied together and governments and citizens from across the world pledged money to help rebuild these people’s lives. It made me re-think my job – it was time I did something that made a difference.
4. Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina was a nightmare that just kept on getting worse. We all sat there hoping that the emergency authorities would get there soon but they never did. It was weeks before any real action started to happen.
The thing that stood out for me about Katrina was how much your home and possessions don’t matter when a disaster strikes. We work our whole lives to obtain these things when we should really be working on loving our families and taking care of the community. Why do we place so much value on impermanent things like a big house or fancy car?
In case you don’t know Enron was a US Energy company that dealt mostly in electricity, natural gas and paper pulp. They grossed over $100 million per year and were named the world’s most innovative company for several years in a row.
However, in 2001 it came to light that Enron was involved in accounting fraud and when this came to public attention stocks dropped from $90 to under $1. Thousands of employees lost their life savings. During all of the commotion the Enron Executives told employees to keep putting money into Enron stocks. They then sold their own stocks and left the 22,000 employees for dead. Enron is now considered the prime example of corporate corruption.
When I learned about Enron I became more determined to be ethical in my work. I promised myself that I would never be tempted by money and allow a financial motivation to overcome my personal morals.
6. Live 8
Live Aid in 1985 was huge. The whole world watched. In 2005 another concert took place. It was called Live 8 and it was aimed at bringing awareness to poverty and fair trade to the eight world leaders attending the G8 summit in Scotland. Concerts all around the world urged people to take action and by the end of the G8 summit the leaders had promised to double aid to poor nations around the world.
This event inspired me greatly. I remember talking about it for weeks before hand. I sat down and watched the concerts with my family and we all remarked on how we felt like we were part of something truly great. As far as work goes, the next day at my job people were still glowing from the vibe the concert created – everyone was so willing to be a part of this great movement and it inspired people to do more to help those less fortunate than ourselves.
7. Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky
The world was shocked when the news came out that the President of the United States had received oral sex from a White House intern. Many people were so surprised partly because Bill Clinton had been seen as a figure of integrity for many years.
The clincher came when he said that he had not had any sexual relations and was then found out to be lying. Everyone thought that the President was going to be charged and sacked.
This scandal taught the importance of matching your actions to your morals – integrity. If you don’t, people get hurt and sometimes you can be sorely embarrassed when you are found out to be a fraud.
8. The on-going Iraq War
The Iraq war has always been disturbing. It started out on shaky grounds and has gone on for too long. The thing about it that really gets me is that it has been so widely covered in the media. We have seen images of blown up buildings, dead soldiers, citizens being tortured in dark prisons and so on.
And we also saw Sadaam’s execution. On TV.
While I was no fan of Sadaam I am also no fan of the death penalty. I believe that it lowers the State to the level of the criminal. But covering someone’s execution on television makes me cringe.
The Iraq war has taught me to be thankful for where I am. I could be in a country run by a tyrant or I could have been shipped off to fight in a war that many consider to have been improperly planned. Realizing these things makes my mundane job seem much more appealing.