“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” M. K. Gandhi.
During the past decade or so, complaining about politicians, determining to look for change, then putting the same people back in power again, despite vociferously vowing not to do so, has become the national vicious cycle from which the Mauritian seems to be unable to get out. In fact, during the past 50 years, generations have grown up hearing that we need to change the crop of politicians who emerge with patronyms which are all too familiar, similar to their policies and politics. So, why hasn’t there been any change despite a dying need for same? One of the reasons is the lay Mauritian himself.
When the lay Mauritian is conceived, his parents, if well off, prefer to go for private healthcare rather than public, for come on, public healthcare, cannot be trusted. When he is born, and his parents start looking for schools, once more, the parents would strongly consider scraping the barrel for private education for how can we trust state held schools? When it comes to tertiary education, the local university will simply not do, for how will chances be maximized for the prodigal lay Mauritian child? And if the child does decide to come back after his studies, that special someone needs to be found, the one with the special connections “lao” to ensure that the lay Mauritian child gets his place in the sun, for all those years of sacrifice entitle the whole family to bypass thousands of others who may be more apt for that specific position.
As much as we want to deny, as much as this may seem a gross generalization, this scenario, is, one way or the other, the norm. And this may be the reason why the much-awaited change is yet to come. From birth, the lay Mauritian is brought up to look down on the local public services. Its free education, health system and various free services that is to the disposal of the citizens are not deemed good enough. The paid private is preferred over the free public, the foreign is preferred over the local. The lay Mauritian has such low expectations that he expects the bad services that he gets and, if, by chance, he gets a good service, he is surprised.
Similarly, the lay Mauritian does not expect much of his politicians. He has since long adopted the attitude of “zot tou parey” and despite all the ideological heated exchanges that he might have before elections, come elections day, he will vote for the same that he has decried and derided for so long, almost willfully accepting to be screwed over. The fear of the unknown is greater than the will for real change; therefore, mediocre status quo is preferred.
On the other hand, the civil servant knows that the lay Mauritian does not expect anything but mediocre, therefore the level of professionalism and productivity does not need to be at its optimum. We then see foolishness such as policemen thinking it is okay to make a joke out of a bomb scare; prison guards thinking that it’s only fair that they share into the birthday celebrations of an inmate; that parliamentarians think that it’s perfectly fine to host private dinners, with official tags, with archaic parameters; that the Speaker feels comfortable to use the adjective “gopia” in a Parliament that is in session; that a section of the press does not think it its duty to elevate the level of thinking, rather bringing it down to fueling the political game it so criticizes, and doing nothing to bring the lay Mauritian out of the swamp of outdated mindsets and politics.
However, for every ten lay Mauritian who correspond to the scenario above, there is one lay Mauritian who has understood that the change he wants to see needs to come from within. If every Mauritian could be brought to deliver to his optimum capacity, he would expect no less from others around him. The lay Mauritian would thus be led to expect more, the demands would be higher, expectations greater, and ultimately the supply would have no choice but to comply. Standards would be raised, and delivery would need to be stepped up to meet the demand.
This trend needs to be reversed: that for every ten Mauritians who have understood that change needs to come from within, there will be one who will not be convinced of same. This is the target that each and every lay Mauritian should work for and this should start from now. It would be more productive than lamenting about change that does not come and blaming others for same.