Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Better World

You can't build a better world for people, people have to build a better world for themselves. Granny Weatherwax said that or something like it. Of all the inequities in the world, the Bible comes close in nailing down what I believe to be the root cause: selfishness. From selfishness comes greed and from greed comes the proverbial love of money. It's pretty easy to come up with situations where love of money isn't the cause of evil but selfishness is harder to factor out.

If I could pull out selfishness from the spectrum of human behavior, would I?

There's a reason that selfishness is such a base behavior: it's beneficial to the survival of the individual of the species therefore the selfish survive and procreate and pass on their selfish ways. Lately, humanity has turned evolution on its head somewhat. Where someone, say, with poor vision might have had difficulties surviving in the past, today it's a non-issue. Not only can we correct the problem, but we don't even really need to. Not every person has to be able to track down his own food anymore. So this previously "poor" genetic material that would not have been as likely to replicate can now "pollute" the pool and we could end up going backwards.

If you take away selfishness, at least at some point in the indeterminate past, we would not be where we are today. This position I refer to includes the good of where we are today along with the bad, technologically, culturally, intellectually, etc. The question is, do we still need this trait? Or more broadly, is it possible that we could someday do without it? As an aside, I offer that the oft expressed discontent of humanity has also been crucial to our progress.

Selfishness has gotten to a point in our society where a select few can govern and control the masses for their own benefit. The super rich got that way through the exploitation of the anyone lower in the food chain, which turns out to be everyone. Some people just feel the effects more severely. I can't fix this myself and neither can you. The question is, will we fix this?

There are various signs that point towards optimism even amongst all the problems we face as a species. The greatest hope I feel is the increasing interconnection between practically everyone on the planet. The level of communication is coming closer to truly putting power in the hands of the people. All the people. Free access. It has never really been feasible to do this, but maybe soon it will be. Those in power are legitimately worried. I see attempts to stop this access and most folk don't even see the war that's going on. They rely on the old media for their information and thus have more difficulty seeing with open eyes. But the times, they are a changin'.

In the end, a species is a self-correcting mechanism. While the selfishness is beneficial, the species can thrive. If not, it may disappear. We're taking some of this power into our own hands now, but the effects will be the same as if they had arisen naturally. We're speeding up the process of evolution. Not all species survive. In fact, most don't. You'd better start swimmin'.