activism, sustainability
Comments 6

Is world peace possible? An optimist guide.

So, I don’t know if world peace is actually possible. People harm and kill each other over a number of silly things. But I know for sure that world peace is definitely not possible under the current, failing system.

Growing up I was told all sorts of things. Like, world peace is possible (this was the 90’s, you guys) and stuff like, world peace is probably not possible but be happy you live in such a nice country. I was confused. How could both things be true at the same time? It either is or it is not. But now that I’m an adult and well versed in multiple shades of gray, I realize it is both. We can have a better system that provides for all human needs but we can’t curb human nature and prevent all violence. The two are separate things. But, since I am an optimist, I choose to believe that providing for human needs will lessen the output of human violence and that’s why I am adamantly in this fight. Despite all evidence, I believe most people are good.

Human nature is human nature. It is mysterious. It is animalistic. It is brutal and it can surprise you. Where does human nature end and the strain put on us by the system we live in begin? Impossible to say, right? If everyone has their needs met, would there still be burglaries? Probably. If people have their sexual needs met, would there still be rape? A resounding yes on that, judging by the fact that 1 in 3 women will at some point in their life be victim of sexual violence. This is a philosophical question and there are probably a million different theories. Are man good or bad, or just stupid? You tell me.

Quick history overview. For 100,000 years a handful of human beings lived as hunter/gatherers. 10,000 years ago we domesticated animals and invented agriculture. 6,000 years ago the first city state arrived. Trade was invented. Rome came, conquered, and went. Millennia of different cultures clashed and there is very little to show for it left today. 300 years ago the industrial revolution. The machines. In the blink of an evolutionary eye we nearly wrecked the planet’s life sustaining climate. The enlightenment era (my fave, obviously) taught us to put things in perspective. The seeds of understanding other human beings were born. And what a fine fucking job we have done of it.

I don’t think I’m alone in this when I say the finest things man ever invented is sanitation and modern medicine. I love books, I love stories but I do not want to live on a planet without toilets and pain killers. The fact that I can poop, flush, and never worry about seeing the end product of that again is something I try to never take for granted. I will happily pay 25% of my earnings for a working sanitation system. Some of you might not feel the same way, but that’s my starting point.

We can have nice things when we work together. No man is an island. You were born and for the first 15 years of your life you were completely helpless. You needed a community to care for you and raise you. That community installed certain values into you. They may or may not be “right” or “true” but the community around you were at least real. Let’s acknowledge that the world is a big place and that it’s impossible to install the same values into every single being.

However, in the last 100 years we have come up with certain universal values outlined in the universal declaration of human rights. Slavery is bad. You can’t own people. Child labor is bad. Killing people for no reason is bad. War should follow very strict guidelines to minimize causalities. All pretty easy things to agree on, one would think.

But somehow, it is not. The world seems to be following a different set of guidelines, agreed upon by very few but nearly universally accepted. Hmm, funny that.

It is, of course, money. Money buys power, either outright or covertly. Follow the money. Who benefits, cue bono?

There’s not enough room in this article to tackle how every industry benefits from this system but we’ll do a few. The oil companies. First of all, who decided that it’s totally cool for a handful of people to own oil, a substance found deep in the earth that has been there for 60 million years (no people around then), but it’s not cool for people to own air or the sea? Why this arbitrary division of ownership of resources? Doesn’t oil belong to every single person on the planet? Especially considering that the oil industry is not profitable without the yearly $5 trillion subsidy by the global tax payer population? It is possible that I’m drinking crazy juice here and that I just don’t “understand the economy” but why can people own certain bits of nature but not others?

The banking industry is, as we all know by now, completely loony-toons. Money is created out of thin air by debt, e.g., giving someone $20,000 based on a piece of paper promising that they will pay it back through their future (not real) earnings plus 15% interest of money that has never been created and the only way to pay it back is to take it from someone else. So now we’re all in the rat maze, running around, trying to grab crumbs from each other, to give them to giant multinational entities that already hoard the majority of it.

It’s only natural that out of this system there would grow a political establishment at the beck and call of these giant industries. The politicians are not the problem, they are a symptom. They are despicable and nasty but they are simply playing the game. When they are rewarded it is because they play it well, not vice versa as sane people would like to think. Good politicians, in the system, are those who manage to steal, cheat, and grow rich and powerful. Bad politicians are the ones that don’t succeed.

In this system, war is good for the economy. Cancer is good for the economy. Natural disasters are good for the economy. Every dollar spent is good for the economy. It enhances the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and that is the only way economists know how to measure the health of a country. It is good for the economy if you hire a nanny to take care of your baby. You just created two jobs – your own that you go to, and the nanny’s. It is bad for the economy if you stay at home with the baby. Two jobs are now lost. You should be ashamed, citizen. It is better to be obese than healthy – more money spent on food and medicine. Better to change your wardrobe 4 times a year than mend and repair. Better to buy tomatoes than grow tomatoes.

Good for the economy but what is good for life? My best guess is spending time with your baby, raising him or her to be compassionate, amazing people. Feeling safe in your modest home. Eating healthy food that hasn’t traveled thousands of miles. To separate needs from wants and feel fulfilled when you have the former covered.

We, the first world, luxurious few, can do this within the system. But the majority of the world can’t. They have to work toxic jobs to keep a ramshackle roof over their heads. They have to eat whatever their small paycheck can afford. They get swept up in extremist agendas because they feel that it’s not fair that people in far away countries can sleep soundly when their tax payer money bombs are destroying neighborhoods on the other side of the world. They leave everything they own behind and join the ranks of 65 million other refugees, not because they want to, but because they have no choice, only to be told that, sorry, the world is full, go back where you came from.

In the current system there will be no peace. Peace doesn’t come with a hefty price tag. Peace is a outwardly static state that doesn’t require constant growth. Peace would be bad for the economy.

There is very little an individual can do today to change the course of human history. That’s probably a good thing. What a weight off your shoulder, huh? That doesn’t mean you still won’t get sad or frustrated with the way things are, and believe me, I have plenty of sad days where just being part of this giant cosmic experience of being human in 2016 makes it hard to function, but given the choice I’d still rather be alive than not. I can choose to take good care of the people closest to me. I can choose to take homeless animals into my care and give them a great life. I can choose to buy and eat healthy food grown with love. I can make my house a beautiful place where I love to be. I can be politically active and slowly, millimeter by millimeter, see my ideals become policies and shape society around us. The battle is never won, just look at the state of abortion laws, an issue supposedly settled in the 70’s. But it’s the fight that matter.

Given enough time a drop of water will eventually drill a hole in solid rock. Due to climate change we might not have a lot of time to get it right, but I honestly believe it is the fight that matters. What if a small plot of land was a birth right? A place to feel safe. Money for food, as universal basic income, was a birth right? A human right. Universal basic income and expanded property rights as human rights and a lot of the vast suffering we see today might disappear. It might not but it seems to me the most integral component of world peace in the traditional sense. Whatever psychological pain people carry and inflict on other people, that’s a different matter. But a more loving system should logically soothe those suffering. End the system that rewards greed.

Everyone will find different ways to make their truth heard. Sometimes those truths clash. How can we solve those without violence? I don’t know. Personally, I try to live my truth as quietly as possible. I vote for the Green Party (I don’t vote in the US but I’d vote green anywhere) because their cornerstone of all politics is a healthy environment and I agree with that. I try to grow herbs in my small apartment (not successfully) because I don’t have access to a garden but I want to keep in touch with being a steward of nature. I write for no compensation on the internet because writing is how I make sense of things and it’s the closest I’ve come to a calling. When I feel myself having prejudice thoughts I remind myself I don’t know someone’s entire story and if I was raised differently in a different place, I would believe in different truths, too.

Huge concepts. This is just a tiny article but it’s a conversation worth having. I’ll keep learning, absorbing, re-calibrating, thinking, talking. Maybe with you. Thanks for reading and spending your time with me.

6 Comments

  1. Kylie – Yeah, that was the bit that jarred with me too! Given a constantly expanding population each individual’s piece of land would have to constantly shrink! However, I think the general thrust of the article was on the right lines. Read people like George Monbiot or Naomi Klein if you want similar views backed by evidence.

  2. You’re a good writer with a true voice. However, a lot of your ideas aren’t backed up with actual sources or analyzed thoroughly. It makes for a very loose argument that, frankly, doesn’t really have a secure point. As I read I found myself logically refuting your ideas. That, along with some basic semantic errors, really takes away from the overall piece you’re trying to convey.

    • You write: “… a lot of your ideas aren’t backed up with actual sources or analyzed thoroughly. It makes for a very loose argument that, frankly, doesn’t really have a secure point. As I read I found myself logically refuting your ideas.”
      That’s an interesting point. Could you please develop what you did refute and why? This might then turn into an even more interesting conversation. Best wishes, H.

      • I don’t like arguing in general, especially on the internet, double especially when it’s completely opinion based. Generally it just makes for more frustration and solves nothing, even if an “interesting” conversation comes from it. But I’ll humour you. I guess one of the most eye-rolly things within this essay was the “small plot of land” as a birth right. It’s completely impossible to do in places humans inhabit. I don’t know the math, but even if the world is large enough for every person to have their own “land”, we’d be so spread out that nothing could be efficiently done. Look at New York city. There are over 8 million people within 300 square miles. People literally live on top of one another. It’d be impossible for every person born in that city alone to own their own land. I’m usually not for the whole “entitled” argument, but property isn’t an entitlement in that sense. It’s something anyone can gain, anyone can earn, anyone can rent and use. But it’s not a birthright. World peace cannot be solved by giving everyone their own share of property. It’d just make more court cases involving boarders, more land disputes, and probably more violence.

        This along with many of the other ideas presented here are what I’m talking about, especially what is said about politics, money, and the economy. It’s written like a book report from the student who only read the back cover.

      • Fine! Now you have added good substance to your comment! Of course, some ideals are better to write about than to realise in real life, and perhaps the right to a plot is one of them. Unfortunately, or fortunately, many things are only entitled to subjective appreciation, like the question” what is a good life?” and implies an ensuing discussion with possibly no end. I think the article is an invitation to reflect on the chances for understanding each other, of course from the perspective of the author. Your mught be different, and thatis possobly what is wonderful in this world. Cheers!

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