Dangerous Minds

“Amateurs loot banks. Professionals set up one.”

In a social experiment conducted a few years ago by OCK TV, two men posing as homeless persons begged for food from well to do, upwardly mobile, educated, corporate types on Wall Street in New York City. Unluckily for them not one person budged. Infact, at times the two men were also abused and threatened. Moments later, another person from the same OCK TV social experiment team purchased an entire pizza pie and give it to a real homeless man. Shortly after that, one of the two social experimenters from OCK TV who was disguised as a homeless person sat next to the real homeless man with the pizza pie. The social experimenter told the real  homeless person he was hungry and asked if he had an extra slice. Without hesitation, the real homeless man happily shared his meal. A man who had hardly anything to share showed compassion and consideration far greater than his wealthier counterparts. The experiment showed that generosity and empathy are quite often found not with the well to do and educated but with the ones who do not have enough to share.

Back in 1964, a famous musical hit the movie theaters all over the world – My Fair Lady. In the movie, Professor Higgins, a snobby, old British guy in Sherlock suit tries to “improve” a simple, flower selling girl, Eliza Doolittle, by educating her on how to talk smart and dress well. In the process of getting better, Eliza loses her identity and her independent mind to become a smart, well-spoken yet pliable, vulnerable machine in the hands of a small minded, misogynist man – all in the name of education.

The history of biggest heists and crimes in the world reveal that most of them were committed by highly educated, well to do, well placed, white collar people who had everything going for them in life. From our very own, Rajat Gupta (Chief Executive of McKinsey) and Peter Mukherjee (CEO of Star TV) to Dennis Kozlowski  (CEO of Tyco), Nick Leeson (Barings Bank, Britain’s oldest merchant bank), Kenneth Lay (CEO of Enron), Bernie Ebbers (CEO of World Com), Bernie Madoff, all the way to the original white collar scamster, Charles Ponzi. Cumulatively speaking these white-collar criminals swindled atleast 100 billion dollars and caused job losses to the tune of hundreds of thousands. I can’t think of even one regular criminal or gang of criminals who can match up to this rogues’ gallery.

The thing is that Education may give you Knowledge, Intelligence and Confidence but it does not necessarily give you Character, Empathy and Wisdom. And the latter three qualities are what makes a person a true leader and a valuable member of the society. Those three qualities have nothing to do with how well educated, well traveled or well arrived in life one may be. Infact, Character, Empathy and Wisdom are qualities which are distinctive of an individual’s nature, disposition, temperament, mentality and psyche.

Mind you, not for a moment I am suggesting that one should not strive to be educated or even literate. All I am saying is that just because one is well educated or well read does not mean, one is also virtuous.  As Mario Puzo wrote – a lawyer with a briefcase can steal a lot more than a thousand men with guns.

So next time someone calls you “uneducated”or “semi-literate” it might not be such a bad thing after all.

“The aim of education is the knowledge, not of facts, but of values”

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2 thoughts on “Dangerous Minds”

  1. I have Vijay Mallya to add to the list. This reminds me of our conversations on the scams across the industries including recruitment. Agree with the point that The richer one grows the more greedy and tend to loose all the 3 qualities. Very few we come across who are rich and yet have the values in life… and this again goes back to our main topic change in the education system 🙂

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  2. I will totally agree with your points, most of the rich people are greedy,selfish and less ethical because of which they loose all the 3 qualities. Out of 100 we can say one or two rich people have some values in life.

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