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Taking action: Adding real meaning to existence & exertion

Kamasua_John KaupaJOHN KAMASUA

WHY do we plod along every day exerting ourselves and making an effort? Is it to find meaning and fulfilment?

Going to the office, shopfloor, lecture room, garden or river to derive certain rewards is part of our lives. We do it for ourselves and we do it for others.

I sometimes wonder why all the rush, office to supermarket to school to pick up the children, to house, to a meeting, to another meeting….

By the time the average working Papua New Guinean comes home, we’ve surely attempted more complicated tasks than our grandparents ever thought of.

But is it all necessary?

Work is necessary for most of us. We use it to give meaning and purpose to our lives. We improve our lives and lives of others by working.

Let me provide an example of work that is unpaid but still of great importance.

In a special way, since the Crocodile Prize literary competition was established, there has been a sense of a revival in writing and reading. The interest is promising and it is growing.

Many people have written creative pieces, while others have produced work on topical issues that face the country.

Some of the best poetry, short stories and essays based on an array of topics on issues have been shared on PNG Attitude and other blogs. Buoyed by a thriving and expanding social media, a relatively recent introduction, they have been widely shared. This is revolutionary in itself.

When we write and engage in discourse, we put ideas out there, hoping and yearning that they will be gazed upon and digested by discerning fellow humans in this country. More importantly, we wish that people take constructive action on these issues.

It seems our job as witnesses is to inform, educate, stir debate and, maybe, sometimes inspire.

But more constructive action – beyond writing - is needed on many of the issues we have been discussing.

This is one of those periods in our country’s history when there is a lot of potential to do something about many of the ills that are facing PNG and the inadequacies that exist in our society.

In all we do, we try to appeal to the better nature of those we see as having the power who can create change for the majority of the people. They cannot perform miracles and we can only expect them to do that which they are capable and allowed to do.

Similarly, we who have been put in positions to do something, must do it. And we who have been given greater responsibilities must reciprocate with a greater sense of duty.

So let’s do it for the next person, man, woman or child, and the elderly. And for both rich and poor.

It is my long and fervent belief that the greatest deeds are those we do for others. I have a view that our existence and exertion have better meaning if we engage in activities that bring good for others.

Quite simply we have to do our job.

We humans are a strange and unpredictable species. We are capable of great love and compassion, but also great evil.

Unlike other animals, we alone have been given a conscience. We also have free will.

We can bless or hurt others, even ourselves. This has been a consistent thread throughout our long history. We knowingly sponsor wars, tribal conflicts and tensions between different cultural groups and we promote the corruption and decay we see in our midst today.

But we, unlike other species, are capable of calling on our conscience to guide us.

The rules to guide our conduct are put in place by a social consensus. By staying on the course they provide, we can guarantee for ourselves and others a better, prosperous and fair society.

If writing and engaging in constructive and frank discourse offers some hope in making a break from what is otherwise a marginal existence, then let it be.

But to go further, to engage in practical action, is imperative. It is not enough that we participate in quality debate then go back to our comfort zones and forget about taking action.

Quality action is necessary. That is why joining efforts to address governance issues, getting involved in community action, mobilising and creating awareness and so forth are all so important.

Taking positive and practical collective action will add more meaning to our existence and exertion.


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Joe Herman

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, John. Life in the USA is extremely fast. Revisiting the Melanesian values can be a source of strength to help keep us grounded and maintain our balance in life.

John K Kamasua

Great to hear from you again Barbara. And thank you for your thoughts.

Barbara Short

Good thoughts, John.

Down hear in Aus we hear about people, young couples, who can't survive on huge incomes.

We live in a materialist world. Everyone is working flat out to make money to spend on huge houses,keeping up with the latest fashion in their clothing, private schools for their children, overseas trips staying at posh hotels, dining out at expensive restaurants, buying the latest fashion, the latest huge vehicles, one for the wife and one for the husband and more for teenage children, (the sort you could use as an ambulance in PNG) so their wives can drive their children everywhere.

It would be very easy for the well-off PNG people to get caught in this trap. You forget how to live simply. You concentrate on yourself and stop thinking of others.

I like your heading... adding real meaning to existence and exertion.

I think a regular trip back to the village is a good thing. Remember how these people survive and what is important in life.

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