Tag Archives: med school

Grappling with Inequality

I hadn’t planned it, but there were three ladies in my tiny room. I swallowed hard and almost audibly, knowing full well that I only had water from the ‘gracious’ city council of Nairobi that deigns to give us access to water once a week. I could offer them hot water or cold; some hot chocolate perhaps? Alas! I was lost for words. Luckily for me, they were my friends and told me it was expected of a guy like me to live the way I do, with books and stacks of papers on the floor and clothes hurriedly stashed haphazardly in my wardrobe.

I reminded myself that I was quite capable of forming platonic relationships with women, and these three friends were more than enough proof. I’ve been experiencing what you could call a ‘crisis of faith’ lately, doubting myself and scrutinizing my character. However, that isn’t what I want to focus on in this post. We got talking and soon after doing away with the often meaningless pleasantries, we delved deep into each other’s aspirations for the future.

One lady expressed her passion for helping the vulnerable in society. She waxed lyrical on how her experiences had led her onto this path, and of how she was going to set up a foundation soon to empower the needy. I was nodding the whole time, amazed at how passionate she was on the subject, until she said that for her plan to work, she had to get rich. My mind suddenly stirred, as if from a deep slumber. Her words stayed with me even after they’d all left, and I was watching online documentaries: alone. Excited to discover more on how the world works.

As soon as I watched the first documentary by Al Jazeera on corruption in the Maldives (see below), it seemed as if the sequence of events for that day had been planned in advance. Watching how the president and the vice president had turned the entire country into a mafia state and were selling off the people’s heritage only to fill their pockets sickened me.

Yet, I was reminded that this has been the norm all over the world, and the only surprising thing was that these officials were too open and brazen in their nefarious acts. I followed it up with another documentary on the Clintons (see below) and my mood worsened.

While no direct links were actually showed, the series of coincidences and the evidence shown in the one hour clip is more than enough for any sane person to make a decision. After all, self interest is the prism through which we view our world.

The last documentary that I watched before fully placing myself in the shoes of our lady above was on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (see below)

One does not need to be fully informed on everything that goes on in secret rooms of power to know that there is something terribly wrong with the system of government and marketplace economics that we have today. The damning thing is our capability to endure suffering and adapt to harsh environments (as can be clearly seen in my being used to getting running water once a week). It is this mechanism of adaptation that my lady friend was using to construct a vision in which there’s an attempt to balance the scales. In a world full of horrendous inequality, the only way (that simultaneously serves your self interest and society) to seek to level the playing field is to first get the money and then use it to shape the world into what you want it to be.

I share her school of thought, even though I subscribe to what we could call enlightened self interest. While I wasn’t fully aware of what drove me to Medicine at the time (My mum wanted me to be a banker), I could intuitively sense that banking wasn’t doing much good to society. It is only now, almost five years down the line, that I have began to recognize the instincts that have continuously led me down the rabbit hole.

However, our plans, visions and beliefs are flawed. One cannot freshen up a rotten apple. The system that allows banks and states to collude with one another to create fiat money, increase inflation levels and reduce our spending power is to blame. Flawed democratic systems (none is perfect) that allow a few elites/oligarchies to call the shots and protect their wealth while disenfranchising the 99% of the population are to blame. Flawed economic marketplaces that end up saddling states (and by extension the ordinary tax payer) with debt that will never be cleared for infrastructure projects that serve to benefit a few wealthy families and foreign institutions are to blame. Our democracies are cleverly hidden plutocracies.

It might seem impossible to reverse these trends. It might seem impossible to change these egregious and domineering systems. Systems that make well intentioned men and women believe that they have to make billions in order to change society for the better. The first step is in spreading this information and increasing awareness, and I hope I have contributed to this.