The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov is an interesting play. It was his last literary contribution that completed in 1904, not long before his passing. It is considered his most lucid and entertaining play, depicting class and other differences in Russia at that time, which was to get its revolution in 1917 - and then followed by 60 years of communist rule. Today, we are glad that the Soviet regime ended, although it did have a number of positive sides, too, which the Wests propaganda made difficult to see, for example, the deliberate efforts in make living conditions for the poor better and develop more equality. It remains a fact that Russia and many other parts of the world, before the Russian Revolution, and after the Soviet era, do not put human development highest on the agenda. If we are well-to-do, lazy and egoistic, we can live well in a peaceful slumber. But in the long run, and if we are more aware of our surroundings and have some compassion and empathy with the less fortunate, notably the majority of the people on this earth, we will realise that we neither have the right to live on the shoulders of the poor, nor does it provide happiness and certainly not eternal life. The characters in The Cherry Orchard are real and sincere enough, even when they are aloof and ridiculous, such as Trofimov when he claims to be above such things as love. But Chekhov tries to explain his characters and several of them are eternal students, in the real sense of the term, but also in the sense that they may be a bit immature, exploring but never quite finding solutions to the many existential, political, religious and other issues. Perhaps, the way many rich and idle anywhere? Reading the book today, we are stricken by the relevance in many of the issues that Chekhov wants us to see in pre-revolutionary Russia. It was a time when even the upper classes were beginning to realise that change was coming. I wonder how many of those who live comfortable lives, in Pakistan, in my home country Norway and the world at large that would ask deep and intriguing questions about the way the worlds economic system works in our time, especially for the lower classes. I think we often avoid such issues. We rather like to converse about our latest technological gadgets, our recent travels and how incompetent our leaders are, implying without saying it that we are right ourselves. Let me add quickly, having dealt with development aid and research in much of my life that I have often had to admit that people in such professions often portray themselves righteous. Interestingly, this was revealed to me when I had discussed development issues with a former colleague, and I am sure we must have sounded terribly certain of what should or shouldnt have been done at our old office. We asked my friends son what he thought and if he found our discussion boring. Well, he said, he thought we were very righteous and quite arrogant about how infallible we were. His mother and I became quite surprised because the teenage boy was slightly mentally retarded. But we had to agree that his analysis was both sharp and accurate. And I have never forgotten it, 20 years on. You, probably, remember that in H.C. Andersens, the Danish childrens writer, story, The Emperors New Clothes, when everybody pretended that the emperors clothes were so beautiful, because that was what they were supposed to say. Then, it was a child, who dared to reveal the truth, being outside the pretended reality, saying that the emperor has not clothes on. Chekhovs play can be taken as a farce, a play in the social realist tradition, trying to enlighten people through entertainment. Yet, to ordinary people the play is a tragedy, showing reality the way it is, with little hope to get out of the trap, and find a better life. No wonder then that the Russian Revolution was around the corner. Today, we do not know if and what revolution and change there will be where we live, considering that the worlds enormous inequalities, within and between countries, and, of course, the current economic crisis and the unsustainable development in environmental and many other fields. Do we behave like ostriches, hiding our heads in the sand, thinking that nobody can see us, that nobody can discover our faults? Do we behave like the rich and idle? When Chekhovs play was prepared for stage, it was a problem that some parts of it did not work in a theatrical sense. For example, in the second act, Chekhov wanted to show the boredom of the rich and the idle, but there is no action, no movement, no change, and no transition to anything new. Chekhov wanted to show, the boredom of doing nothing. But he also wanted to show it in an interesting and funny way, so that the audience would be entertained and the rich and the idle ridiculed, well, without going too far, because this was still a time when these very people were the rulers, too. In Pakistan, today, we have many rich and idle, and many are growing old. There is nothing wrong with that. But as we grow older our thinking slows down. So, we should get out of the way and let younger people take the centre stage. That isnt easy, of course, because we do genuinely think we are right, and having the economic power, and the traditional old boys network and so on, we may also be able to pull the strings as long as we are around. This doesnt necessarily have to do with our physical age and power only. It has to do with the age and applicability of our ideas. In Pakistan as everywhere, I find that there is a need for opening some windows: We need to let in the air, let new ideas be explored, hold serious debates about economic and class issues, and stop behaving like ostriches, because even if we belong to the upper classes today, that may not last. I hope that we can have a debate about social and economic change and that the transition can be gradual and based on support from people, not as a result of street power, as we have seen in other countries during the Arab Spring. Such change is often unsustainable and may be quite shallow, too. As the worlds population this week has become seven billion people, and by 2025, they tell us that we will be another billion, we must consider more seriously than ever before how we can share the worlds resources. In Pakistan, soon with 200,000,000 (two hundred million) people, we must focus more on how we can create sustainable development for all in the future, not least the two-thirds of young people, those who are not yet even become middle-aged. Everyone must participate and contribute, and those who are bored from doing nothing, as in The Cherry Garden by Anton Chekhov, must be told to wake up and contribute, too, basically by getting out of the way, sharing their privileges and let others take over. That is what is needed. Even in my own home country Norway, which is a rich, egalitarian and democratic society, we, or rather the young Norwegians, including Pakistani Norwegians and other immigrants, must try to create a society that is fairer and more inclusive. We should not accept status quo and growing inequalities. The writer is a senior Norwegian social scientist based in Islamabad. He has served as United Nations Specialist in the United States, as well as various countries in Africa and Asia. He has also spent a decade dealing with the Afghan refugee crisis and university education in Pakistan. Email: atlehetland@yahoo.com