We, as a species, are like a continuously rising and falling bobber on the ebb and flow of the evolutionary sea. We're like a half-way point between the animals and the divine we admire so much. One moment, we are considering ourselves the Universe evolved and looking at itself, and the next, we're jerking off, watching porn while eating junk food and bitching at random strangers we'll never meet in comments sections on the internet. If you're presently itching to comment that what I just said was physically impossible instead of realizing that's a metaphor, you might want to consider on which side of the equation you stand. I digress.
There have been many systems of human organization that have come and gone, and we never quite seem to grasp the best one. Partially because we're all too fallible, and partially because even though a system may have started out with a good premise, it inevitably is drawn to its logical conclusion. Or perhaps more tellingly, when we do find some way to get along long enough to lead a nice, quiet life, someone comes along to ruin our shit.
Philosophers have been debating these questions for years, but we as people owe it to ourselves to look at the underpinnings of the machine we're driving if we wish to understand where it might lead us.
Now, the two major competing schools of thought that drive the West are Democracy and Capitalism.
On the one hand, you have a system that makes every person a participant in the choosing of a leader, and attempts to make all those within its confines equal. One person, one vote.
On the other, you have a system based on good old greed, the desire to amass wealth and power through whatever means possible.
Now that Capitalism has become the de facto lingua franca of most if not all nations on Earth, we have to contend with something that is entirely unsustainable in the long run. Why's that? Well, for starters, there are not unlimited resources on the planet, and the more other nations enter the fray to compete with, say, China and the United States, the faster those resources will wither away. There is also the problem of planned obsolescence and the inevitable use of things that cause more pollution (electric cars are great, but the oil companies don't profit from non-gas-based engines).
There is also the more ethically challenged situation that arises when faced with a Capitalist system which is entirely unbridled: everything must have a price, and everything must be produced cheaply.
We are approaching an era where automation will take most of our jobs away in short order, thereby leaving us penniless, but we are expected to pay more for things as inflation and the desire to put a price on everything ruins the lives of all save the wealthiest among us. Figure the logic of that one out.
With the election of Donald Trump, we see the natural endgame of unbridled capitalism: the businessman has literally replaced the politician, rendering bribery a useless thing of the past. Who knows? As Mr. Trump stacks more and more businesspeople into his cabinet appointments, perhaps wealthy business owners across the country will go into politics as well, changing the laws as they see fit, to benefit themselves above all others. Pure conjecture, of course.
So on the one hand, we are mired in this sort of mediocre swamp of entertainment and sex, gluttony and violence, just like the animals we are, but are still keeping one eye on the sky, so to speak, thinking we could do better. We can. We just have to break the bonds that hold us back for one second to see that there are bigger, deeper, and more worthwhile things to do with our lives.
We call ourselves 'addicts' when we need to get a fix of drugs on a regular basis, but we're just as addicted to video games and Facebook, porn sites, eating copious amounts of food, and watching violent movies. And there's nothing wrong with that, in-and-of-itself! I don't care if you play Minecraft or WoW for hours on end, as long as you are aware that you could also do things that have a higher purpose (and once again, I'm not talking about worshiping a god, not that there's anything wrong with that).
By higher purpose, I mean doing things for others, whether that means family, friends, neighbors, our city, country, or planet. "Higher" to me means every other person than ourselves. And yes, we might be doing things on a small scale, but we need to think bigger.
My problem is that we are either all one way, or the other: we believe in a deity and blindly follow the religious leaders or doctrines and get nothing done, on a larger scale, or we don't believe in one and get nothing concrete done, either. Either way, there are a whole lot of people who are not doing very much with the time they have on this planet. And of course you want to enjoy it by doing something fun! And of course there is nothing wrong with worshiping an idealized form of the human being! My main concern is that while we're consuming mass quantities of resources and praying our lives away, we're losing our planet, and we will never repair the damage we've done, or get off of it to help our ever-expanding population!
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I want a Star Trek future, and not a Mad Max one, and we're kind of on the cusp of either of those right now. If we keep destroying our planet so that a handful of individuals get to shit on gold toilets, nearly 8 billion people are going to die. The rest will have to murder each other for whatever resources are left. I don't want that.
Things changed a long time ago when people started thinking counter-intuitively. Up until then it was: I don't like you? I'm going to kill you. Then this weirdo comes along and says: "Hey guys. Love everybody." I'm not a religious person, but you have to admit that was some fairly revolutionary stuff. We wouldn't have peace in such large swathes of the world if it wasn't for that kind of thinking.
If we want to survive until we as a race evolve out of being the Doctor Jekyl and Mr. Hyde of species, we have to start thinking counter-intuitively. The umbrella we cast over similar-colored people we call our tribe has to be cast over all of humanity, and our tribe has to be the one that looks to the future with hope and hard work. Our tribe has to be the one that actively builds that future to include the poorest to the richest, and tries to raise everyone to a fair standard. This isn't Communism or Socialism. It's Humanity. It's Universal Sentience.
The goal in this case is not to create a new enemy to join together against, but to have a new goal we can all work together for. That goal is the survival of our species and whatever is left of our planet, and it has to start now. Or else it's Mad Max and Fallout for everyone on a global scale, and I don't think you want to live out your old age running away from roving bands of murderous cannibals.
So yes, I do think it's important that we get entertained, and have sex and enjoy sex, and eat food however we like and be body positive for everyone, and enjoy a good action movie. That's fine! That's our animal side getting its kicks. However, remember that the timer is ticking as to how long we have until the oceans rise high enough to drown us all and disease overtake the survivors, unless a nuclear war doesn't kill us first. Perhaps that might affect your decision-making process when it comes to your involvement in our mutual survival. Food for thought.
Then when we get our many appetites under control, we might start aiming higher, and working for it instead of leaving it to some hypothetical "other". You are that person. It's up to you.
What do you think?