I recently spent some time in prison. Sadly, I found many of my friends there. Suppose it supports the adage “Mind the company you keep.” We all wear the same orange jumpsuit. It is what the system requires. It destroys our individuality and treats us all the same based on one shared trait, our propensity to break the law.
Every day we get our allotted rations. It is a scientifically calculated amount containing all the nutrients required to sustain our lives. For some, this is not enough. They prey on the weak and consume more than their allocation. This creates scarcity, which leads to even more want, which leads to even more aggressive competition.
The cycle ends with the weak living off the charity of some, while the strong grow fat and slow.
From my cell, I saw something peculiar. Outside my window, I could not see a fence around the prison. Upon inspection, I found the only obstacle between me and freedom to be a door, guarded by two armed wardens.
Considering the number of prisoners, I was dumbfounded that these two guards could keep the prisoners at bay within the walls. That was until I learned their names.
They had a hard-earned reputation as the world’s best riot response unit. They were called Scarcity Mentality and Complacency.
For us to accept the constraints imposed on us by the rules of our prison, we need to be indoctrinated by one thing: Scarcity. This truth perpetuates all of society from prisons to business schools. We are all competing for limited resources. Your survival is dependent on whether you secure your required amount. This necessitates you impeding on the resources required for the survival of another.
This belief encourages aggressive competition in our personal and professional lives. It subjects us to survivalist attitudes which reflect in the way we negotiate, design products and market to the masses.
The one thing it does not do is create hope for a brighter future. With lack at the basis of everything we believe, we can never maintain peace, achieve equality, or make significant strides towards our Utopia.
The perspective created by this first guard makes the job of the second so much easier. With our highest hope that we will rise to the top of the food chain within a prison we struggle to see, complacency becomes the norm. We are so consumed by the game in which we have been forced to participate that we spare no effort or attention in conceiving another way.
Complacency inspires us to accept the rules we have been given and to do the best we can within them. How does the saying go, “If you cannot beat them, join them”?
Our world is undergoing a revolution. One which starts to make obvious the complacency we have accepted. Education is no longer monopolized. Information and knowledge are free and available at the touch of a button.
The world outside the walls of our prison is governed by a new set of rules.
What is that, you ask. Let’s suppose for a moment that I am an ant. Now explain to me the size of the internet.
Where would you begin?
This is a world that does not function in lack and complacency. It is a world of abundance waiting outside the door.
It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Consider this. The world’s biggest taxi service owns no cars. Yes, but that was conceptualized in a first world country, we don’t have the resources.
OK, closer to home then. One of the biggest kitchen retailers in the world owns no stores and employs less than 100 people. They are homegrown and proudly South African. They are Yuppiechef.
How about Siyabulela Xuza. Our own, Harvard educated, rocket scientist. Grew up in a township and cooked up rocket fuel in his mum’s kitchen.
He is reinventing fuel cell technology for the Africa of tomorrow, skyrocketing us past the computer age straight into mobile business technology, no matter the energy shortages.
NASA even named a minor planet after him.
Ultimately, the only thing holding us back, if we reflect honestly, is our belief system. A set of constraints we have been taught to accept. Like Galileo Galilei, I urge you to consider what would happen if we dared to believe the earth was not the center of our solar system. What would happen if we, like the Wright brothers, believed it possible for things heavier than air to fly?
We all have the keys to set us free from our own prisons. We are equipped to disable the guards at the door. The key is to change our thinking and question the structures on which we choose to build our world.
The truth is that we live in a world we have never seen before, filled with the potential to achieve the seemingly impossible. We live in a world of abundance. Our own Utopia, just outside the walls.
*Blog originally published here.