Downturn affects social harmony

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 March, 2009, 12:00am

Many people think peace is the most important aspect of life. But when people compete for money and status, this can create disharmony in society.

Disputes can easily lead to trouble. For example, if the government provides more incentives for business but reduces assistance to the poor, there will be resentment among the public. When people take to the streets over their grievances, there could be social instability.

Many businesses are sacking people because of the economic downturn. The remaining workers have to do more work for the same salary and they are unhappy.

The government can play an important role in promoting a harmonious society. It can seek public opinions and provide adequate assistance to the needy to reduce disputes between the rich and the poor. There should be flexible plans to meet any emergency.

Last but not least, communication is also an effective means to maintain a harmonious society.

Janice Kwong, Hang Seng School of Commerce

From the Editor

Thanks for your letter, Janice. If we look at what is going on around the world, we can see an increase in public violence as more people become affected by the economic downturn. Some are angry because they have no water or food, others because they have no jobs.

Some people believe that this kind of unrest will lead to more authoritarian governments with less say by the people. It will be a true test of the ideal of democracy. Basically, governments have to take money from rich people and give it to poor people in such a way that it does not anger either. That is not an easy task.

In bygone days we used to have religion to keep people's expectations in check. Some extolled the virtues of living simply and vowed to shun earthly pleasures, be kind to others and be less mindful of oneself. These days that creed has been replaced with one of greed and empty lives. People are less willing to sacrifice personal comfort for the lives of others.

Susan, Editor