I visited Varanasi a few weeks ago. As promised it proved to be 3.5 days filled with fascinating fables, informative insights, metaphors and myths and what really preoccupied me afterwards was the mindset, or philosophy around dying – before and after death. It was a deeply introspective experience that, even without actually thinking about it, forced me to reflect on my own attitude and beliefs about life, and death. My more pragmatic self did some research and found facts relating to the business of burning bodies.
Among other things, I read that this custom and practice has almost depleted India’s own forests and they are now importing the wood from neighboring countries like Nepal. Considering the pyres are burning 24/7 and an average of 50 bodies get burnt a day, that is some business! And a huge, weighty demand for wood!
An environmental activist’s nightmare and, quite frankly, a matter of life, over death! Now!
Fast forward a week or two and I am talking to one of my clients in the EU which is expanding their business borders further East mentioning Nepal as one of their new sources of wood. And I think to myself…
I get the “machinery” of business. I get what is needed to make a business run, well-oiled, efficiently and effectively to maximize profits. I personally thrive on other businesses expanding their business borders because it calls for cultural collaboration which can only be achieved through cultural understanding and clarity in communication – my business. I get that everyone wants their share (fair or not) of the economic and consumer pie and when the local market gets too small or the region has run out of resources and stock, then businesses have to move on up and out – otherwise it is death to the business! I get that.
But, how much of all of this is done in the true wisdom and understanding that some ideas, traditions and customs need to be burnt, for the benefit our children’s futures? And their children?
And, just how much of all of this is as “sustainable” as businesses envisage, intend and promise?
Let’s face it. Business is a violent business. Success can be cut throat. Does it have to be this way? Do we even have choices?