Firstly may I apologise to my regular readers for my lack of output recently as I moved apartments and waited for a new internet connection.
I have always believed that people are born naturally entrepreneurial and that the education system, with its 'conveyor belt' approach, removes that spirit. I saw some interesting examples of that spirit coming through over the last few weeks.
The best example came from a news report on Syria which was reporting on one of the refugee camps. Personally I cannot imagine how distressing it must be to be forced from your home and to live in a camp in another country. Deprived of whatever home comforts you may have had, it would be easy to fall into depression and despair.
And yet, apparently, there are now 2500 businesses that have sprung up in the camp. People have even created whole new supermarkets and one entrepreneur has started a currency exchange centre as business owners need to change their currency into local currency to buy stock.
Although I am impressed by their ingenuity and resolve to rise above disaster, I am not surprised. Living and working around the Middle East I have observed first hand the natural desire to support and provide the essentials for the family. There is a pride that encourages self-sufficiency and personal responsibility.
At the same time as observing this report I also studied the reports of floods and other appalling weather conditions in my home of origin, the UK. Although devastating to those affected by the weather, those natural occurrences could never equate to what has been happening in Syria.
And yet, the difference in the Western approach to problems was marked. In the UK the whole emphasis was on what the government, locally and nationally, had not done. People sat back with the expectation that someone else would solve the problem.
It was not as if these conditions were a one-off event. Houses that were flooded this time were the same ones that flooded last time. Houses that started to slide into the sea had seen their gardens steadily eroded by landslip for many years. And yet, unlike the 2500 entrepreneurial success stories of the Syrian refugee camp, the UK had one story of a man that had built his own flood defences.
I cannot believe that evolution has removed the survival instincts from the West in a mere 200 years since the Industrial Revolution. However, I can see how education, over reliance on government and the removal of manual skills in favour of finger control of technology would make the West less able to take on the challenges that were accepted by the Syrian refugees.
Finally, on a lighter note, I live in a town where there is 300 days of sunshine. However, occasionally it does rain. Stocking of umbrellas is not high on the average shopkeeper's priority list. However, at the first sign of rain a plethora of entrepreneurial umbrella salesmen appear on street corners. Of course, in the West the response would be simply to criticise the weather forecasters!