Being Human pt. 7 (Inequality)

Yes, we have been becoming, on the whole, a much less destructive species, which is laudable in many ways. We have done so through our finding common ground with other people. We have imposed peace upon our nations and taken away the means for others to destroy each other. We have found ways of interacting with each other that avoided mutual self-destruction. Of course, the weapons we have at our disposal could definitely put an end to this little experiment we call humanity, and may actually still do so if we are not careful. Fortunately, in many societies, the new power-centre is no longer the business of war, but the business of Business, predominantly. As the world becomes more cross-integrated beyond the borders of every nation, destruction of the other becomes a less viable option. In my opinion, this might be why we let poor nations war among themselves. Since they have no real ‘value’ as business partners, wealthy countries see them as the last places they can sell their weapons. A touch cynical, but not an altogether implausible theory.

It is time for a new step in the experiment, however. The time has come to see the intrinsic worth of the human being for who he or she is, independent of their value as a commodity or consumer.
The way the system works, poor countries are enslaved by richer ones to produce for them, and their citizens are kept in poverty by their economic systems which have been coerced by corporations. The goal being to pay as little as possible to reap as much profit as possible.

We will never be able to achieve any kind of peace while all we are interested in is the abuse of our neighbor for our own pleasure or enrichment. Yes, we do get 400$ IPhones because Chinese workers are paid 50 cents an hour and are packed ten people to a room in god-awful factories. Yes, we do get 5$ t-shirts because we pay 10 cents an hour to Pakistani laborers. We are slavers. This is the new slavery.

We don’t have to look much further than the private prison system which wants people incarcerated because they are free labor. But someone is paying for all that cheap/free stuff. There’s a balance in the scales that is completely out of whack. Those Chinese slaves are living in Hell, and we should care. The same goes for the Pakistani, or Vietnamese, or countless African countries whose labor practices we will circumvent as soon as they get the balls to bring them up to code. Because we want slaves. We need slaves. We love cheap stuff. Maybe we need to change the way we look at human beings, then. Would you like your brother or sister packed like a sardine in a sweat shop making clothing ten hours a day? How about your mother? Or your father? Why is it okay for someone else’s? Then let’s do something about it. No matter how much better things have gotten with the model of humanity we have today, there are still billions of people living in poverty and being crushed by systems that we help enforce. And that needs to be addressed.

And yes, for a lot of people, things have gotten a lot better. We worry much less about fiery death raining down from the skies than we used to during the tense times of the Cold War. Many of our neighbours have no such luck, as can be testified by the many conflicts still destroying societies across the globe. Much of our aggression has been redirected for positive results, in our business, sports and entertainment, which has altered the dynamics of our societies for the better. I only use this example to illustrate society as a macroscope of our personal lives. To wit, the more positive (inter-social) traits we incorporate in the general societal makeup, the better it “works” as a whole. The more we involve our destructive traits into competitive fields that do not include violence, the better inter-societal development we can expect.

Society, though, is made of individuals, each with his or her own opinions, upbringing, difficulties, hurdles, joys and all those elements that influence him or her. To have a truly ‘great’ (global) society requires many elements. By ‘great’, I mean one where everybody has the opportunity as well as the drive for self-fulfilment in a way that is beneficial to all. The behavior and core beliefs of each individual dictates how well society will function, as a whole. I strongly believe that it is important for people to have within them the traits that are desirable for that result to come to fruition.

‘Great’ societies are comprised of people whose positive social traits far outweigh the negative, and who, if they are given a common project for which to work for, can accomplish incredible things. The attitudes required for any social interaction to succeed in a mutually beneficial manner are trust, honesty and goodwill. As an aside, some cynics will say that it is money that is the all-important bond that keeps societies chugging along. I agree in the sense that it greases the wheels, but it is only an exterior tool. Wherever there is a lack of it, social cohesion disintegrates if there are no other ‘bonding agents’.

As much as laws can be a powerful deterrent on any person, they are also only an exterior constraint. If the internal flaws and contradictions of the society in question are not addressed, laws are only created to repress, rather than uplift. The fracturing of a State or Nation through its lack of cohesion eventually has to be addressed or face the dissolution of the State itself. Cohesion can only be brought on by making its members equal partners in its constant construction and betterment.

Since society begins with the individuals that comprise them, the influence they exert is inestimable. It is a matter of common good to instill these three positive traits in all members of society, since they are the ones that reduce much of the friction that is generated among many people living together.

I will be teaching you about all this stuff so that you can live it yourself. You see, even though you can behave in a thousand different ways, it’s by being a kind, honest, peaceful person that you will avoid trouble, gain trust, make friends and keep them. You will go far in life with a positive drive, but you’ll go even further with a terrific reputation as someone others can count on and won’t harm them. These traits and their adoption are about taking the long view of life. Some people still think that their interests are the only thing that matter, and that these traits are useless. Little do they realize how much their lives would be enhanced if they chose otherwise.

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