Wednesday, July 28, 2010

From a Meaningless World to a Meaningful World (Polemic) by Edwin Young

Since I believe that life is meaningless in itself, I want to address those others like me whose minds take them down a similar divergent path toward believing in the meaninglessness of existence, and to give them heart. You, my dear reader, and I and those with the intelligence to do so can give it, life that is, a meaning, our personal meaning. Mine is a very earth-bound, non-religious, non-spiritual meaning. Mine has little to do with how I should live my life. Mine comes from detouring from the conventional paths, comes from looking down from a perch on another planet, comes from attempting to view the long panoramic journey through the earth’s history with its evolutionary history and history of civilizations, comes from trying to project far into thousands and millions of years hence, and then assembling these perspectives. In some peculiar and mysterious way, this aggregation of perspectives leads me into a sense of awe and, in a non-spiritual sense, reverence for what has taken place and may take place on this unique planet. This view inspires in me a profound caring for this spectacular tiny planet swirling through googols of lifeless galaxies. It is like I want to take mankind, as I would a young child, as I would my own child, by the hand to be astonished with me, to be thrilled with me, at the sight, the knowledge, of these myriads of natural miracles. It makes me want to say to all humankind, now and henceforth, take care of, take mothering care of, this marvelous flourishing marble. Take care to see that it is still here in all its glory for generations upon generations henceforth to be astonished by and to love and be grateful for and to enjoy caring for.

And now, my mind is once again burgeoning with ideas to further my unrelenting pursuit of my mission to tell the world of the possibility of evolving to a higher stage of cultural evolution, leaving the myopic, Cyclops-like old mankind, the shallow, insensitive, arrogant, mad, ruthless, toxic, destructiveness of all past civilizations, thankfully, behind. A new, more wise, more mature, humankind can evolve. I can see, just over the temporal horizon, that higher form of human that loves all living things and puts care for our earth above love of power and status, acquisitiveness, and brutal competition and conquest. I can see a strange, higher stage of evolution in which humans accept their animal nature and kinship with all animal species and organic life. I can see a new humanity in which there is no public personality there to disguise their private person and deceive their neighbor.

I can see a new world that has no borders and therefore no nations. I can see a world in which there is no more urbanization, people live in small communities, and they grow their own food organically and share freely with the community. I can see a world where science and technology have developed ways to simulate the natural seasons and conditions for all of the different vegetables, fruits, and other health giving plants. Scientists, in this world of farming, would have restored the original, natural plants, fruits, and vegetables, with all the necessary vitamins and proteins, so that we once again have nature’s variety and no more Genetically Modified Organisms. With such a variety of plants, vegetables, and fruits, there would be no need for meat from cattle, hog, and chicken mass production farms. Therefore, there would be a drastic reduction in methane gas, the risk of bacterial illnesses, and an absence of foods resulting in dangerous ingestion of second hand antibiotics. These natural-environment-simulated structures (NESS) that provide for vegetation from around the globe would also make the use of deadly pesticides unnecessary. One important value of NESSs is that the community can grow foods that are high in Omega 3 oils and thereby participate in the international boycott on the commercial fishing that is causing a global depletion of fish that in turn is destroying the eco-system. In addition, there will be no need to eat farm fish that are unnaturally fed on GMO corn and soybeans and bad for your health. Every small community could build these simulated environments and have a huge variety of healthy, organically grown foods perennially. With such a new food growing system, there would be no more need for that vicious, corporate-appeasing Federal Drug Administration. The self-sufficiency of homegrown foods would obviate our need for vast, energy-demanding, distribution systems as well as our current monstrous waste disposal sites that are overflowing with environmentally destructive packaging.

I can see a world in which parenting is a community endeavor. I can see a world in which education is completely individualized and without grades. There would be no mandated curriculum. No learner would have to move lockstep through a fixed schedule of lessons, leaving ninety percent of them without having mastered the material. I can see the education being done in these small communities having a focus more on learning personal, interpersonal, societal, intellectual maturity, and maturity in intimate relations than on prescribed curricula. I can see education that teaches people of all ages how to manage one’s personal health, develop and maintain good eating habits, avoid the use of drugs, unnecessary medications, and all other substances that are bad for one’s health. Such a form of education would also bring about the best possible kind of preventative medicine. To make teaching maturity the most effective, all members of the community should take turns as teachers or co-teachers since learning is best and most enduring when one teaches what one was taught. In addition, when youth take this responsible role, they also become more caring and mutually supportive and take an active role in maintaining the quality of the community. I can see communities in which the sick, children, the disabled, and the elderly are well fed and well cared for in such small, mutually supportive communities. With community doctors and a vast, global, internet-health-information-system, the best care would be available to all instantly. In fact, having such mutually supportive communities would mean that health insurance was no longer necessary, indeed, no kind of insurance corporation would be necessary.

When all of the members of a small community are educated in all of the areas of maturity, they become capable of discussing emerging problems in the community rationally. This being the case, they would not need to vote and have leaders to direct them. They could have community meetings in which any member could put forward a problem or proposal. Anyone and everyone could share their thoughts and knowledge relevant to the question at hand. With the question before everyone, anyone could access the internet, troll for the relevant experiences and information from other communities around the globe, and then share this with the group. They could wait until a consensus was arrived at then decide to try a solution or plan and see how it works. If it does not work, they could resume meeting and begin over with new ideas to be tried and evaluated. When they find a method that works, they could post it on the internet for the benefit of anyone else in the world.

I can see a world in which there are no more corporations, a world without contracts, copyrights, patents, or property deeds. I can see a world in which there is no need for capitalism. Consequently, there would be no banks and no stock market. There would be no free enterprise or free market economy. I can see a world where the deadly monetizing trend has ended and the profit motive is obsolete. The end of a worldwide, growth-based economy would mean an end to humanity’s pell-mell rush over the cliffs of self-destruction. Counterproductive, unhealthy, earth polluting products that seep into groundwater would no longer be produced. An end to polluting the rivers and oceans would mean the dying coral reefs would recuperate, overfished endangered species of fishes, some on the brink of extinction, would make a comeback, and otherwise edible shellfish would stop being contaminated.

Energy systems are essential for the functioning of every aspect of our culture. The massive energy-industrial complex with its life-threatening coal, nuclear, and oil industries supplies energy for just about everything our modern way of life has come to depend on. First, there are the extremely costly facilities for oil and coal production and refining and for nuclear energy plants that supply almost all of the energy. They are the sources that are required for mining precious metals, mineral excavation, logging and their processing and transporting and the massive chemical industries. Primarily, they are the main suppliers of energy for home heating and air-conditioning, refrigeration, and lighting for domestic homes and commercial buildings. These energy sources are necessary for cooking appliances; water plants; farming and ranching equipment; food processing factories and transportation for their distribution across our highways; the energy required for live communications such as television, the cinema, and radio; for our huge networks for personal and commercial communications; the escalating industries for information transmission and records storage; and for the massive new technological innovations for health diagnostic and treatment machines. They supply energy for our mounting surveillance and security systems and danger detection and alarm systems. They are essential for our appalling, sprawling waste and sewage disposal and sanitation systems. Unfortunately, they supply our enormous military with its energy guzzling modern weapon and transport systems. Finally, they are necessary for our vast numbers of manufacturing plants and their machines that are now running around the clock. The pressing question for our nation and the world is whether there are alternatives to its addiction to these lethal energy sources. Furthermore, if there are technological remedies, can society reorganize itself to make the transition to them?

I can see a new world where these small communities are energy self-sufficient. There is a saying that an army runs on its stomach. One could say that our nation runs on its energy sources. Our growth-oriented economy is an energy glutton and, metaphorically, the energy industries fuel every aspect of our tyrannical corporate world. This situation results in a casus belli that drives our nation to occupy or to threaten all energy producing nations. Thus, we now must support a gargantuan military-industrial complex to assure access to their energy. Astonishingly as it may seem, all of this massive energy complex is unnecessary. I recall that, in the seventies, the high school principal in my hometown built a wind energy system that not only furnished his home and farm with energy but he was able to sell energy to the local utility. Our new world small communities could easily do the same and, if you add to that the ease of implementing the new, wallpaper-like, solar panels throughout the community, sufficient energy for all would be available year round. Furthermore, hydrogen technology, contrary to the media, is ready for immediate use in buildings and for transportation. One large, six-story business building in the northeast uses only hydrogen energy to supply all of its electricity for a tiny fraction of what electricity formerly cost. These alternatives would be clean energy sources. Consequently, there would be no need for oil, coal, or nuclear energy. With no need for oil, there would be no need to occupy nations and maintain such huge military. With an end to the oil industry, the oil tankers would be permanently docked and that would stop the oil spills so deadly to sea life and our precious shores.

I can see a world there are no hierarchical chains of command, no centralization of government and plans, decisions, and duties are arrived at consensually in communities. Consequently, there would be no politics. With no government and no corporations, there would be an enormous increase in numbers of people to work. I can see a new world where everyone works doing what they are capable of, where people freely work for the good of the community, and there are no work schedules. I can see a world in which there is no advertising. No one is duped into purchases that are not necessary and that are actually unhealthy. I can see a new world in which all is shared and there is no ownership, no exclusiveness, no judging, no social comparison or discrimination, no rivalry, and there is no inferior-superior ranking of people. With no rival, exclusivity, social status ranking, and no advertising, there would be no need for the costly and psychologically destructive fashion competition. People would live in truly egalitarian communities with members well schooled in maturity.

I can see a world where people are trained from childhood on to avoid violence of any kind, even in sports. I can see a world where crime resulting from disputes over possession and possessiveness, jealousy, and greed has become archaic. I can see a new world in which law and the justice system has been replaced with reverential discourse in caring communities. I can see a world in which there is no incarceration. I can see a world where there are no more weapons of any kind and, of course, no weapons manufacturers. There would, of course, be no more war. There would be no military. With this freeing of people from work in corporations, government, the justice system, and the military, people could work whenever they choose. However, in a community-based society, people could become engaged in mutual help and furthering the health and welfare of their communities. So many more resources would be freed from counterproductive manufacturing, environmentally unfriendly building, and rampant, frivolous consumerism that our natural resources would not be in the process of being depleted. The forests of the world, especially the rain forests would be rejuvenated. Atmosphere, free of pollutants from manufacturing and capable of being cleaned by the restoration of greenery, would become healthy again and lung diseases, cancer caused by air pollutants, and other diseases from water and air borne contaminants would dramatically decrease.

I can see a world in which creativity, innovation, and self-expression thrive, in which these are celebrated and are shared freely without restriction. I can see a world in which science and engineering flourish and engineering innovations are shared just as are findings of scientific research. Communities having access to such advanced information and technology could reason together concerning how to use it and could evaluate it, locally, report their experience with it and whether or not they found it harmful and discontinued it. I can see a new world in which the most up to date systems of communication are available to everyone across the globe and everyone across the globe would be considered the same as family or closest friends. Information that is beneficial in one locale would be instantly available to all.

Over the last several decades, the Federal Communications Commission has increasingly relaxed its prohibition against mergers and acquisitions across both the horizontal and vertical spectrums of types of media, from newspapers and magazines to radio to television and the movie industry and also to DVD producers and furthermore from global media corporations to small town media. Now only a few corporations control what reaches the public through any media outlet. Contrariwise, with the worldwide internet, non-professional individuals can perform investigative journalism just as professional investigative reporters and they do this mostly for free and out of a sense of community responsibility. Now these internet citizens are reaching thousands, hundreds of thousands, and even millions of viewers. A worldwide internet community is on the brink of co-opting the audiences of the mainstream media and beginning to help pave the way for this new stage in the cultural evolution of humankind.

I can see a world in which there are no sexual laws, nor even taboos, yet people engage in sex responsibly and without sexual abuse, coercion, or inflicting harm. Yet, I see a new world in which humans, living in these higher-stage-small-communities, are able to reverse the population explosion. As the population becomes smaller, more people would be available to devote quality time to the upbringing of the children of the world. This would make it easier for the children’s education to include maturity training, which is a sine qua non condition for ushering in and maintaining this new, higher stage of evolution in human civilization. Persons in this new world would live stress-free with an inner serenity and would become accepting of and empathetic with one another. Children growing up healthy and mature, in every sense, and feeling a sense of belonging to an inclusive, global community would mean that they and people everywhere would have a collective sense of meaning and a sense of purpose to maintain and further this new stage in the evolution of humankind and human civilization.

An important thing to note about the vision of a higher stage of global cultural evolution is that it is the opposite of our current attempts perpetually to be patching up the costly, excessive, and ever mounting number of flaws and breakdowns of our nation’s many complex systems.

I will not see this before the end of my life; still, I can see minute signs that it is evolving and edging closer to the horizon. Even that is wonderfully meaningful to me. Not that I am trying to find meaning to live a meaningful life but that I am living to do my small part to usher in the new humankind, living for that broader, more meaningful, human destiny.

Author bio:

Edwin is a 76 year old, retired, psychotherapist/institution reformer. His greatest satisfaction came from reforming many juvenile correctional institutions, a maximum security prison, a West Texas mental hospital, and the huge Job Corps in San Marcos, Texas. All in all there were thirteen institutions that he successfully reformed. In the last year of his PhD program, Edwin was one of the two PhD graduate students to be awarded the annual University Research Institute grant. His dissertation committee said his was the longest, best, and most complex in the history of the department. Since retiring, Edwin spends his time writing. His site is: The Natural Systems Institute.

1 comment:

Jacob Russell said...

noticed that the link to the Natural Systems Inst at the end of the article doesn't work.s