Humanity’s progress through the ages could be described as a very powerful automobile with very poor steering. Technologically, humankind has become somewhat advanced. Science and medicine are progressing at a pace. Yet with each technological advance Man has employed it to produce more sophisticated capacity for killing, albeit at a huge economic cost.
Likewise, although we are grateful for advances in medicine there has been insufficient consideration given to the problems of ever increasing overpopulation and an ever increasing proportion of elderly people in those populations as life expectancy increases.
Following the dollar trail gives a great insight into what our species as a whole considers really important. Financial investment and incentives are thrown at science and technology while almost no resources are directed towards philosophy and the humanities. Philosophy can be considered as the steering of our metaphorical vehicle whereas science and technology equate to the power of the engine.
What is the value or point of ever increasing speed and power without adequate thought being given to the direction of travel? The questions of the environment, society and ultimately even the economy have been subjugated to the pursuit of power. While science and technology certainly increase the scope and depth of our knowledge, without accompanying philosophical considerations they do little to add to our wisdom.
Recently China announced that it was relaxing the one child policy. Despite the fact that this policy was an attempt at preventing critical overpopulation the Chinese government is relaxing it because they have already have too many old people in their society. With not enough young workers, who will pay to keep the elderly? You are probably right when you gasp, “No-one!” This would-be solution is obviously a very short term fix.
Climate change is a bad enough problem but at least it can be mentioned! The question of how to deal with the elderly is a problem that, around the world, politicians won’t touch. The reason is that, if they were honest, it would cause panic amongst the not-so-young.
My prediction is probably as correct as it is chilling. Within ten years or so, around the globe (short of a pandemic that reduces the world’s population by at least a third and particularly hits the elderly), euthanasia will go from being illegal to compulsory. The rich and powerful are not going to pay to keep the “dead wood” alive. First, those in nursing homes with dementia will be put down. If I had dementia I wouldn’t mind in any case. Secondly, the rest of the people in nursing homes will be removed. After that, quite possibly, retirees (other than the rich and powerful) will be swatted out of existence. After that, quite possibly, the long term unemployed will also be removed.
Much as I hope I am wrong I fear that, as a matter of logic (considering human stupidity and greed) I am completely right.
We could not reasonably or ethically prolong the lives of the elderly if that meant the deaths of millions of young children! I myself am no spring chicken but accept the fact that I will have to go before a young person, especially a young child! It’s a shame that world politicians have not the guts to raise the subject.
Have you ever wondered about why so many of our youth come to violent ends? Many die in car accidents and others perish in needless social violence, often fuelled by drugs and alcohol.
As part of the growing process it seems certain that risk taking, particularly amongst young males but also to a much lesser extent among females, is here to stay. Why? It would appear that such behaviour, although undesirable, is a part of the human condition. After the Second World War there was much less deliberate risk taking by youth than is the case today. The reason is simple. The youth then had totally got this behaviour out of their system because they were exposed to massive risks during the war. Those that survived had moved past that stage of development.
The question today is “How do we accommodate this natural but undesirable behaviour in our current world?” I would suggest that teens who feel this primal urge be encouraged to undertake dangerous but socially beneficial work as charity workers in war zones or places that are simply too dangerous to attract most people. In that way the “danger urge” of youth is spent while improving the world rather than detracting from it.
A realistic charter of human rights
Given the precarious state of life on our planet it would seem reasonable that the long term survival of the human race is subject to some considerable doubt. Globalisation has more rapidly brought negative consequences more so than positive ones. Although circumstances would seem to be rapidly spinning out of control there is no going back. We are on a one way journey wherever that is leading.
If we are to have any hope of overcoming these horrendous obstacles it will be necessary in the fairly near future to arrive at some sort of world government. That could be a UN with real teeth and power, although given its charter and the various rights of veto belonging to super powers who seldom agree, this is probably a pipe dream. A significant number of powerful nations would have to be willing to surrender most of their sovereignty. Millions die while nations and their governments follow their own agendas.
A democratic world government could only work if the bulk of humanity had sufficient education and intelligence to think both long term and fairly rather than chasing after immediate self-interest or ludicrous agendas and promises of extremist groups. The West’s promotion of democracy in the Middle East is an obvious example. The moment a genuine democratic election is arranged it is often the case that a majority elect an Islamic government tending toward the extreme and the West is mortified by the results.
A world government dictatorship is undesirable as the likelihood of an enlightened leader (in the mould of the Delai Llama) is remote. Even more so than leaders of democracies dictators seem only interested in their own well-being and that of their immediate circle of support. Syria and North Korea are obvious cases in point.
How we are to begin in saving our species and many others is a bothersome open question. Unless we can reign in the greed and philosophical stupidity of the mega rich and the very powerful we have little chance. The capitalist ethos of congregating more and more wealth in the hands of individuals or small groups is certainly doomed. The question is; will the survival of the human race go down with it?
A new charter of human rights will have to start from a non-capitalist standpoint. The very idea of human rights also necessarily includes the concomitant notion of human responsibilities. The idea of rights without responsibilities tends toward the absurd and is totally useless.
Charter of human rights
- 1. All humans should respect all forms of life and live and let live wherever reasonably possible.
- 2. Every human being has the right to basic shelter, food, water and the necessary means to sustain their lives.
- 3. All people have the right to produce and raise children (although not too many given the overpopulation of the world) in as much safety as possible. All children have the right to at least a basic education and preferably one beyond that.
- 4. People have the right to accumulate modest amounts of property and have that property protected. Such property should be subject to reasonable limits so as not to condemn others to poverty.
- 5. All humans have the right to defend themselves up to a reasonable use of force. This specifically does not include the right to bear arms. We have all seen how this amendment to the US constitution has played out. The right to bear arms actually diminishes personal safety rather than increasing it.
- 6. Everybody has a right to work and an obligation to do so, health allowing, until a reasonable retirement age has been reached. Such retirees have a right to modest support for the rest of their lives. People likewise have the right to reasonable amounts of non-work time and to be compensated fairly for their work.
- 7. All humans have the right not to be exploited, economically and generally, by others. This in turn translates into the obligation not to exploit others.
- 8. All governments, from world down to local, should be secular. Human beings follow many different, and quite often competing religions. No-one, and no religion has the right to assume a monopoly on truth and hope. People can believe what they want to believe and it is impossible to stop this in any case.
- 9. All governments and large private companies should be required to be completely transparent in all their deliberations and practices. The obvious exception to this requirement is weapons technologies and military matters. This exception is necessary to prevent such technologies falling into the hands of terrorists or criminals.
- 10. General transparency in governance is about the only effective way to fight corruption and corruption is one of the greatest blights on humanity, blocking our way forward.
Unless our outdated means of coordination between nations is quickly superseded it is all but certain that our species is going to follow the dinosaurs. There is little time left to act. Violence destroys much more than it gains. The various wars are testament to this. We must find non-violent ways of disempowering those who presently run this world, and are either possessed by greed and stupidity or else hamstrung by that of others. It could be argued that Barrack Obama is one of the most enlightened presidents in US history but is hamstrung by the realities of the power and wealth cliques that lie behind him. He may possibly even personally that Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden are right deep down. However, there is no way he could say that or pardon them without risking a very likely assassination of himself. His position prohibits him from making many decisions and choices that he may like to.
The only way forward is for each individual to do what he or she can to follow a path of enlightenment and fight greed and stupidity at every turn, on every level!
If you’re interested in the future of our species and the world in general don’t forget to buy my novel ‘Brownout – 666’ (available as an eBook from Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple I-store etc etc for a paltry few dollars). Don’t worry, I am not about to be capatapaulted into the ranks of the greedy mega wealthy. I am just scratching out a living.
Professor Vernor Vinge
In Australia recently, a lot of professionals have objected to the federal government’s proposal to cap tax deductible self-education expenses at a maximum of $2000. Doctors, nurses, teachers and many other professionals claim that they have to spend much more than this to keep up with the latest developments in their fields.
It is undoubtedly true that the task of keeping up with constant changes is becoming more and more demanding as well as expensive. The rate of change in the modern world is increasing exponentially. Just to be able to cope with our work and our lives in general we have to learn more and more.
Given the exponential rate of change the human race is going to reach a point where we are simply unable to learn and remember the amount of information that we will need to in order to survive. Professor Vernor Vinge coined the phrase, “the singularity.” The singularity is that point when the rate of change against the time axis goes off the chart. There is simply no way of stopping or slowing down this exponential rate of change. Perhaps the only solution will lie in humans becoming androids, with powerful computer chips embedded in their brains.
If you like my posts considering purchasing my novel “Brownout -666” available as an ebook from Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Gardner, Ibook and many other ebook retailers.
Miserable though it is, one sometimes watches the news on the TV. Typically there is ten minutes of news and endless sports news and stories. It is useless to change channels. The result is the same. Marx said, in the 19th century, that religion was the opiate of the people. In the 2st century sport is the opiate of the people! It would seem that the media and the world powers don’t want people to think but simply have their minds fixed on trivial things. If the masses actually thought deeply they would be terrified about the future.
Jesus (and Buddah) were right in saying that you should love all things, including your enemies. On a spiritual level that is the most sensible way to approach life. Stop to sniff the flowers and love them! On a personal and individual level, that is all there is.
Yet on a biological and species level it is more than likely that Hitler was right. If one desires that humanity goes on and prospers such ruthless policies as elimination of the disabled and weak make a great deal of sense. Post WWII the world we have inherited is worse than ever. Aging populations, ever increasing numbers of humans and finite resources are all spelling doom. At present we have multitudes of people in nursing homes, many with dementia. In the near future (unless humanity entirely becomes enlightened) I can’t see the rich and the greedy sacrificing anything for these unproductive individuals. I suspect it will be a case of “Arbeit mach frei” (Work sets you free). You guessed correctly, that is a slogan of Nazi Germany.
I don’t have to dream very hard to imagine a coming world where people who no longer work are disposed of. No, this is not a world created by Hitler. This is the world that prospered after his defeat. It is more than just for amusement and the occupation of time that the elderly continue to work. It probably makes them feel safer.
After all, if humanity doesn’t quickly get its act together, both from an individual and species perspective, Nature almost certainly will remove us, one way or the other.
Australia now has, almost certainly, the highest tobacco prices in the entire world. While no one is suggesting that smoking is healthy or not a health risk there are many factors at play here. The Australian government is evidently intent on making poorer people choose between smoking and eating. Unfortunately there will be considerable numbers of people who continue to smoke while their children go hungry and without shoes. I am sure that organised crime is switching its attention from indian hemp and other soft drugs to tobacco. The government is obviously oblivious to these considerations.
Then there are the mentally ill. The vast majority of these people smoke and find it impossible to quit without exacerbating their illness. These are also people who tend to be very low income earners or dependent on welfare. The social consequences of massively higher tobacco taxes has obviously not been considered by the Australian government. From increased crime to greater levels of psychiatric disturbance in the community the dire results of these thoughtless snap decisions are growing in the dark.
There is little evidence that financially destroying smokers causes greater numbers to quit. Other countries (such as Taiwan) that are increasingly banning smoking in public areas, yet do not find it necessary to hugely raise tobacco taxes, would seem to have at least as high, if not a higher, rate of quitters.
Lastly, it is self evident that the Australian government is hypocritical about smoking. On the one hand they are demanding that smokers quit or face utter poverty, so say for concern about their health. Yet on the other hand the government certainly does not want people to live much beyond the retirement age. I for one do want to live long enough to get dementia and be plonked in a nursing home (although I suspect that governments of the future will just give such people lethal injections). It may be cute to be trendy but the Australian government has now crossed the bounds of logic and good sense. Unfortunately, the other political groups are not at all concerned about this. This dictatorial and unwise attitude thus cannot be stopped at the ballot box.