“Leadership is not about the next election, it’s about the next generation” – Simon Sinek
It’s a fresh crisp early morning as I set off on my bike. The sun is still groggy but I’m fully awake. The dew’s still fresh on everything, a reminder that nature is still fully in control despite what we puny humans may believe. A faint glow of the morning sun threatens the fragile dew drops from behind a bunch of white buildings. The birds are stirring and frantically waking each other up in the trees. I wonder what they’re saying as I gain speed down a hill. A few random trucks filled with workers and laborers trundle down the lonely streets as sad sweepers clean up the mess we made the day before. Empty bottles, cigarette butts, and even fast-food bags litter the side of the road. A speeding car passes and throws an empty can onto the cold asphalt. It somersaults a few times and lands next to the feet of the poor sweeper. As the sun begins to gain heat I head to my house for a shower and get ready for the new day.
I think of how the Japanese have no janitors in their schools. I think of the neat cobbled streets of European capitals. And then I think of how dirty our streets would be if we had no cleaners. What does that mean really? Why do we sit in a park and just leave everything behind on the ground even though there are trash bins all around? Do we really need to get poor desperate laborers to pick up after us? Is it impossible to teach our young generation to clean up after themselves and take pride in their roads?
There’s something horribly wrong with seeing the youth trash their own country. That suggests two serious issues that directly affect the growth and prosperity of our nation. First, without a generation mindful and caring about their country’s resources there can never be real progress: How will they care for the economy?! And secondly, with such a large poverty gap we can never have a real economy. See the link?
In Japan, the students clean their classroom, sweep the corridors, polish the toilets, and even prepare lunch for the school. In Bahrain, the students trash the classrooms, destroy the corridors, dirty the toilets, and throw their sandwich boxes on the floor. There needs to be a serious awakening and training of the next generation to maintain themselves and their surroundings. It could start at home, but I prefer the school. Just a small cultural tweak; that will lead to the next generation caring about our resources (natural and artificial), our infrastructure, and our country overall. Only can a caring society guide us through the turbulent times up ahead. It’s a small shift that costs nothing yet remains ignored due to cultural habits.
The poverty gap will continue to bleed this country and hurt locals trying to scratch a living. No real economy can sustain itself with such a huge difference in the distribution of wealth. Firstly, from a humanitarian perspective, it’s totally unfair to ignore impoverished laborers crammed in a room and worked to the bone. Secondly, their cheap labor robs local workers and companies from being able to compete. It may have served us in the past when the warm blanket of petrodollars sheltered our economy from the cold reality of economic equilibrium, but now that we must shift to a service-oriented economy we need to face reality.
If we don’t teach our children how to care for themselves, we will be lost. If we don’t care for our guests and give them fair wages to balance the market, we will also be lost. Two separate issues are more closely related than we think. And as I have faith in ourselves that we can bridge this gap.