My news editor really didn’t want me to write another anti-war editorial. It’s not that he’s blasé about the war, it’s just that he feels we’re being bombarded [his choice of words, not mine] with war-related content. A major US vendor made similar noises to my publisher too — if they advertise, they said, the creative cannot be placed near any war-related stories. To their great credit, they don’t want to be seen as in any way being associated with the war.
What a great stand! In an environment where it has become so easy to sanitise the effects of war on other human beings, it is certainly worth praise. The other choice, of course, is to just shut the war out of your reality because, well, everybody’s sick of it – and really, how long has it been since we talked cricket without having to worry about our high-tech bombs blowing someone else’s children to pieces?! So, some of us will not talk about it because it’s bad for business. And some would rather talk cricket — because it’s good for the mind.
My news editor thought I should look at the new corporate governance initiative by former federal politician and GST advocate, John Hewson, instead. “We need more ethics in business,” he said.
And he’s certainly right about that one.
But let me ask a rhetorical question: how ethical it is that we’re feeling slightly pestered by the nuisance of having to watch someone’s else’s blood splashed across our TV screen — just because we can afford to watch “the spill” while flicking to the next channel to check how Ricky and his mates are going?
And how ethical is this in an industry that — more than any other industry — is responsible for the high technology built into the weapons that are now being used in Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein, while causing some ‘minor collateral damage’ along the way?
As a senior executive I had lunch with the other day summed it up — what people don’t realise is that business is war, and war is business.
And whether we like it or not, the biggest economy in the world is heavily dependent on its military component, just like its military component is heavily dependent on our industry. So, yes. Like it or not, we are all involved in this war whether by being affected by end users who'd rather save their dollars than spend them on IT until things "die down", or even by delaying the execution of mergers and acquisitions as has reportedly been the case in the local channel recently.
That doesn’t mean that, for us, it should not be ‘business as usual’. But as human beings, we need to remember that there are human beings on the other side of this equation. And as part of the industry that plays a big part in enabling the war machine, we have a duty to talk about it. That is ethical. Even if slightly impotent. Even if not of consequence to the biggest merger this year — the just announced acquisition of Linksys by Cisco. And even if not really relevant to what we do for living.
We owe it to our fellow human beings, as much as we owe it to the channel-loved vendor mentioned above who certainly made its stand known. Let me know if you disagree. And please — don’t mention the war.