Thursday, July 31, 2014

This better world.

I would like the human world to be better. I suppose they are quite simple, these wants of mine, and nothing I haven't said before. I would like for all people to have enough clean water to drink. I would like everyone to have enough food to eat. Shelter, a good, safe place to call home for everyone. Excellent healthcare, of every type, for everyone in the world. Education, in all its forms, enough to encourage and satisfy every human's desire to learn, to know. Somewhere within that, more specifically I find myself thinking that I would like all adults to only have the sex they wanted to have. I'd like all people, from a very young age, to understand human reproduction, and to have access to any kind of contraception they would like. Also I would like for people to only bring into the world children they wanted. I would like peace, for the wars to stop and for peaceful, fair solutions to be found to the injustices that underpin conflict. I would like for us to live sustainably, to stop damaging the earth, other species, non-human systems, natural environments. I would like human endeavour to be for life, not for money. Money may not be the cause of suffering but it is certainly a major contributor to it and commonly an obstacle to achieving a decent life for everyone. I would like there to be no unnecessary deaths. None. All the preventable deaths of people, all the ways people die for no good reason, because of poverty, or hunger, or thirst, or diseases that can be prevented or treated somewhere else in the world, or so many other reasons. Maybe we can never prevent all those deaths, or the ones because of violence, or ignorance, or accidents. But we could prevent so many of them. A huge majority of them. I want many other things too. Mainly I want life, not avoidable death, for all human beings, and for us all to create an amazing life for all of us, together.

What could we not achieve, all 7+ billion of us, working together? Working to provide water, and food, and shelter, and healthcare and education for us all, could we not easily provide these things for all of us, if the efforts of all of us were directed towards achieving them? I think we would easily provide them, and more, for all of us, and have all the rest of our time and resources available to do whatever we chose, to enjoy ourselves, to be creative, to invent better ways of doing things, to meet our many other wants. It seems so achievable, and it is clear that we do have enough water, and food, and shelter and everything else for all of us on this abundant planet, even for all 7+ billion of us. Yet so many people do not have them, and while some people have a huge excess of these things, and it would help if they had less, it is more the problem that so many are prevented from having them, rather than solely being a problem of distribution, significant as that is. I look around me and I see this amazing place, this planet, so capable of providing an amazing life for us and everything else living here, and I see all of us, human beings, so many of us, with such incredible capacity, so capable of amazing lives. And it hurts me that we are doing so badly. It is hard to feel happy, when we are failing so hugely to prevent these tens of thousands of deaths every day, which we could so easily prevent, just as a starting point. When we are failing in so many ways to provide together the decent life, and beyond that the amazing life, that it seems to me we could so easily achieve for us all.

Life could be so great. And I sense that it is not an accident that it is not great, but actively prevented, particularly prevented by so many of us being caught in a system which requires us to work for money, in order to live, and which values money over life, and thinks it alright for people to die for lack of money, in some form. And while most of us are stuck in that system and can do only a little to change it, there are those with huge power, who could change the system very substantially, and choose not to, partially because they benefit immensely from it. And those people and systems carry much greater responsibility for the suffering and deaths caused by this prioritising of money over life, and those powerful people and systems must be opposed, if positive change is to happen.

And for me it's hard for life to be great, just for me, or just for the people close to me, when I know it is far from great, failing in fact to meet even the most basic requirements for life itself or for a decent life, for so many people, now, today, on this planet we all share. When so many people die for nothing it's hard to feel that things can be good or okay for me or for any individual, they are indivisibly bound up, for me. I see how free we could all be, how we could achieve this for all of us, and then be free to do and be whatever we want, to have amazing lives, far beyond the meeting of basic needs, but on a solid foundation of those essential needs being met for everyone. But as all these preventable deaths occur, I feel trapped, because we are bound together. I know it is part of life to be happy, to love and move and laugh and think, to make music and art and love, and everything else that makes life worth living. I know it does not help those who have died or will die tomorrow for us who are alive not to live our lives as happily and well as we can, yet often I find it hard to laugh and be happy as the corpses mount up all around me. I want to do what I can, play my part to contribute to sustaining life for everyone, and beyond that a decent and amazing life for everyone. Partially of course it is so that I can also have an amazing life, and feel alright about it too, and laugh and think and love more easily and freely. I would like to have that, and for all of us to have it. And I am willing to work for it.

When I go to bed at night, sometimes I think about all the thousands of people who died that day, most of them of preventable causes. I feel sad for them. I feel grateful that I am alive and that all the people I love are still alive too. Some days, rare days thankfully, one or more of the people I love have died, and of course that makes me sadder than the deaths of the thousands of other people I don't know but who are similarly being mourned by others around the world, that day and other days. I am happy to be alive. And I would like to work for this basic goal of life, of sustaining life, human and other than human, on this planet.

Of course, the reality is that while I might think about this at night, and in the morning as I get up to start another day, those same nights and days I am worrying about or working on the minutiae of my life, the work I've committed to doing, the deadlines I have missed, the job I still have to complete, the documents I'm meant to produce, the tasks I need to organise, the money I've spent, the ill-health I struggle with, the problems of people I know and care about, all the things that I actually spend my time dealing with. Some of it contributes in some way to my larger goal and to those things I want, others do not and I wrestle also with the frustration of spending so much of my time on things which seem irrelevant and to do little if anything to improve life, for me or others, or which occasionally seem actively to make it worse. And that is probably normal too, though I find it hard to reconcile, again, as the death toll climbs. Maybe this is the struggle that everyone concerned for these things faces, and maybe there are better ways of struggling. I'd like to hear them. It seems too that things are worse now, today, in the world, than say ten years ago, with over a thousand people killed in Gaza, with ebola killing hundreds in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia in west Africa, with so many countries supplying weapons to so many other countries, to use to kill one another, with poverty and ill-health still so common, with the lives of more and more billions of people treated as expendable by those with the power in our world. With things being as they are, today. But I do small things, like read lessons on ahimsa, non-violence as a way of life, from Gandhi, featured in Yes Magazine which always features many other real, intelligent, engaged and hopeful articles, and that helps. And I try to remember the world I want to work for, and the lives we could all sustain, and the amazing lives we could create, and I go to bed and I get up and I try to keep working to do what I can.


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