A better world sounds like something impossible…right? Let’s be real, in fact, a better world is impossible because we only have the world we exist in right now. This one. That’s pretty esoteric though – goes right back to the old adage:
The past is gone forever, the future never arrives, the current moment is all that we are given – which is why we call it the present.
It’s that sort of funny not funny double talk that old philosophers use to blow the minds of those who are new to thinking. The same kind of mind-blown stoner talk that those of us who were lucky enough to be teenagers before the internet used to engage in.
Dude…last night I dreamt I was a butterfly but now I think I might be a butterfly dreaming I’m a dude.
It was fun then and it’s fun now. Still, it bears thinking about – can we actually change the future to make a better world (or even a worse one). There are a couple of schools of thought about that.
One school, the deterministic school, says that everything is predetermined – like the Muslim ‘It is written.’ – this belief system more or less says that an all knowing God already knows the outcome of life, the universe, and everything else. (The answer is 42.)
Another school, the free will school (Not Free Willy) says that we write the future one decision at a time. Only you can decide whether you raise your left hand right now.
Did you? If so, the determinists would say that I was compelled by cause and effect to write the suggestion which caused you to either do it (or even not do it since determinism decides all). The free will crowd says that the universe didn’t know which direction you would go but now we are going to a whole new world…
I’m not sure where I fall. I believe in cause and effect but at the same time, I also think there is a random factor that keeps the entire structure of the universe from being known start to finish. I like to think of life as the big X factor in all of it and human life as a special part of that. If I were the creator, I can see the fun in setting it up that way. After all, what fun is an experiment you know the results of? Even if you know the ultimate destination, there might just be some madness along the journey.
So – is a better world possible? Yes. I have faith that it is. I believe that our actions actually make a difference. I believe that our choices have consequences. Not just for our own lives, but for our entire species, our entire biosphere, maybe even our entire star system.
That out of the way – what does a better world look like?
Let’s get the simple stuff out of the way first:
Clean air for everyone
Clean water for everyone
Healthy food for everyone
Shelter from the elements for everyone
Hooray! Just like that we have a world where no child dies from hunger, dirty water, toxic air, or exposure to the elements.
I’m just going to leave it at that. It doesn’t really work to have clean air and water for only China or the USA or England or Sudan…it has to be for everyone. These aren’t national problems, they are global problems and they need to be addressed globally.
Food and shelter can be national or regional issues – but once they are addressed on a micro level, why in the world wouldn’t we want them to be addressed on a macro level?
So – let’s sum up. A better world is possible for humans. In a better world – no decision should be made which threatens clean air or clean water for everyone. It really is that simple. Someone or some government wants to do something and the first question is:
Does it impact global clean air or water in a negative way? If the answer is yes – then that thing doesn’t get done. Period. End of story. Find another way. Go back to the drawing board. Start over. Do something else. No exceptions.
You know who would argue against that rule? Capitalists and nationalists and authoritarians. Not in every context but at some point the capitalist would argue that the benefit (to them) of dirtying air and water outweighs the cost (to others). The nationalist would argue that the benefit to their country is worth the cost to other populations. The authoritarian would argue that they don’t have to consider the life, liberty, or happiness of others.
To me – it seems clear. Capitalism, nationalism, and authoritarianism all stand in the way of a better world because they are willing to sacrifice our air and water for their own benefit.
We don’t even need to start the discussion of food and shelter yet because with air and water we have already discovered three impediments to a better world.
I’d love to hear your comments on this. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Please share them,
Here’s what isn’t actually a better world…and far too real for comfort, but strangely funny and comforting.
Here are a few things from the web I found interesting this week: