Thought Leadership

What matters?

By Colin Walls

Today, I am going to do something unusual [for me]: I am going to touch on politics. We stand at an important point in history – there is the coming together of some major issues all over the world that will change it for ever. I am not going to name people or countries, but there are some really great politicians and figures in public life, who, if we listen to them and follow their leadership, might – just might – guide us to a better world. But there are other individuals, who have great power, that may well take us the other way. In a right-minded world, these latter guys would be behind bars. I will pick up on one issue today …

A widely used slogan recently has been: “Black lives matter.” For some time, I felt that these words were racist, because it implies that other lives do not matter. Of course, this is not what people mean at all, but words can turn on you if you are not careful. I began to think that the words should be: “All lives matter.” This very clearly proposes respect for everyone.

Then I changed my mind. My rethink came about after seeing a cartoon. It was very simple. There is a picture of two houses. One is on fire. There is a guy holding a fire hose. He is dousing the house that is not burning. Because “All houses matter.” The stupidity of this thought is blindingly obvious. The message of the cartoon in clear. We have a problem: a significant proportion of the world’s population are disadvantaged because of the color of their skin and that discrimination is just plain wrong.

The world cannot be a better, more equitable place until people are only judged by their behavior and actions [and attitude] towards other human beings. And they are not judged by random, arbitrary factors, such as the color of their skin or the location on the planet where their mother gave birth. In his characteristically eloquent way, the late, great Bob Marley, in his song War, included the words:

Until the color of a man’s skin
Is of no more significance than the color of his eyes
Me say war

A couple of years ago, I had a personal experience of discrimination, which gave me cause to think. I was denied travel to the US with an ESTA [for technical reasons that I will not bore you with]. I was required to get a visa, which takes quite some time and costs money. I needed to cancel a trip because I could not travel. So, for a period of time, I was inhibited from traveling; a freedom to which I was accustomed had been taken away. I found myself thinking: I am British, white, male, heterosexual, educated, able-bodied and solvent – how can I be subject to prejudice. It was a temporary situation and, compared with the discrimination that so many suffer, just a minor inconvenience, but it felt bad.

Many things in life are hard to define – the measurements and terminology are fuzzy. For example, what color is my hair? I would say “brown”, because I have a long memory; others might say “silver”. My eyes? I would say “green”, but others might say “pond color”. My race/nationality? English, British, European, Caucasian, Earthling … My species? That is easy: homo sapiens. Just check my genes – there is no room for dubiety. We are all one species. There is no fuzziness or shades of grey. We should behave as one people.

[End of rant.]


One thought about “What matters?
  • Thank you for your comments. I look forward to reading your posts even the work related ones.
    I have been stereotyped by police in the past, but I can change my appearance.
    Not everyone is as lucky as I am.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at