The Following article was commissioned as part of an ongoing series of projects, specifically intended to benefit the poor throughout the world, to be undertaken in the future by a private foundation - David Burton
Saving the World:
A Modest Proposal For Making the World a Better Place Than We Found It.
What are the factors that influence us all to live and work constructively to make the world of the future better than the present world?
Would we be able to recognize with sufficient vision those new directions that would bring about a better world for tomorrow, for the generations that follow?
What are the virtues that might be cultivated by those who would see themselves as visionary leaders of the world of tomorrow?
What are the reasonable and effective approaches that will actually do some constructive long term good, rather than the ineffective and wasteful methods that would only make the aid givers feel better but would not appreciably help those in need, both today and tomorrow?
To what extent does the culture of today influence the outlook of tomorrow, in what ways, and in what contexts? Can any of this be demonstrated without causing emotional or even physical strife?
These and other similar questions applied to the current world situation require mindful and heartfelt attention before it is possible to proceed in a helpful direction. Material conditions must be accurately assessed, but considerations of a spiritual and moral nature must also be addressed.
Just what are the criteria of right and wrong, good and evil throughout the world on the scale of human values that can be laid out in the open for all to see? What deserves the severest reproof and the grandest encouragement?
We have been through a tormented century that has seen tremendous technical advances alongside increasing want and human misery. We have seen blind adherence to creeds and ideologies that have resulted in the deaths of millions of people all in the supposed name of making the world a better place. We have been there and done that. We cannot guess anymore, we must know. Otherwise we are doomed to fail, not only our best selves, but also the countless numbers of human beings who follow us. Even as regards God, in what ever way God is conceived, invoked or believed in, it is wonderful to have faith, it is becoming increasingly essential to know.
To the best efforts of world class leaders and thinkers as well as those who have labored in the fields, helping the poor, destitute and left behinds of this world, a gathering together could discover what we must not only do to make the world work better, but to make sure that the world has a place in its future for a human civilization deserving of the name. We need to know what that future civilization might be like, what a human life lived in say 2075 or 2150 might be like, what such a civilization will need to flourish and most importantly how best to raise the standards of the poor and if possible insure that their present miseries will not be repeated in the future. We could suppose that the long term goal is to reduce human suffering on all levels and to increase human happiness both individually and socially.
To this end, with the eventual goal of providing a vision of the future for the world, the following suggestions are proposed;
Here are a few of my own postulates and assumptions;
I assume that there is an objective measure of right and wrong, good and evil throughout the world that can be discovered, measured, calculated as to its effects, etc. a MORAL CALCULUS that operates on societies, that everyone who is not dishonest, can come to agree upon. Once done, it would be a simple matter to make sure everyone knew what it was. We especially want to make sure that no particular ideology can claim this standard as exclusively their own, else we will have accomplished nothing more than what we have already, a situation where people are willing to fight to the death over intangibles which are in fact quite tangible.
It seems quite clear to me that without an objective system of ethics, any movement to redress the problems of the poor, ignorant and lost is doomed to failure. A universal human ethics would greatly influence and moderate some of the worst human actions. It would be less likely for anyone to do something wrong and rationalize it since everyone would recognize that the action in question was wrong; there would be no escape for wrongdoers. By the same measure ends could no longer be allowed to justify the means.
What needs to come out of this is some sort of recognition of personal and societal RESPONSIBILITY, a recognition of the sacredness of human life; that a human life cannot be brought into the world and allowed to rot in poverty, ignorance and want. Therefore a new CONSCIOUSNESS concerning the meaning and value and use of such human activities as sexuality, as it directly pertains to the bringing forth of new human life, must be clearly understood and not, as has so often been the custom, pushed away from open discussion. But of necessity this volatile subject, among many, should not be allowed to be used by any group promoting its "rights" over the fundamental responsibility to understand and to recognize its fundamental functions. An ethics that places "rights" above responsibilities based on knowledge of good and evil is stillborn.
I maintain that after a thorough study of the points of an ethical system identifying certain human traits as good and others as evil, as in the seven deadly sins, and the seven virtues [topics to be discussed in future articles in this website], that we may actually be able to change the attitudes of individuals and whole societies for the better. The internet will be a great tool for this.
A SCIENTIFIC THEOLOGY or a THEOLOGICAL SCIENCE.
It will be more difficult for those without any interest outside the material concepts of the universe to reject a non-material component to the problems connected with human misery. I assume that these non-material influences are present and moreover have in the past, do at present and will continue in the future, to affect the course of human affairs. [There are people who have been actively looking into these matters and whose opinions will be covered in future articles to appear here] And yes I do mean the existence of a superior guiding intelligence; God. I regard the supreme being as inherently distinct from human beings, on a different order, but nevertheless related to us and very much interested in us. Even the cutting edge physics is aware of this and the new awareness affecting the very understanding of the subatomic bases of the universe of matter and energy needs to have far wider public attention than at present, as it aids the human condition by providing hope where very little light exists today.
To this end, those who are attempting to advocate new ways of looking at the universe involving new theories of matter and energy in particular need to be supported against the tendency in organized science and other institutionalized structures to protect the existing theories against any challenges, by publishing their works and by using the internet to popularize them.
For openers there needs to be concentrations on a few areas at the cutting edge of research including MEDICINE, NUTRITION and ENERGY. Physics and biology will see tremendous advances. We need the operational ethics in place NOW before the technology changes or obliterates our options.
Ludwig van Beethoven [1770-1827] believed that music could and does change the world. So too did Cyril Scott [1879-1970] in his book, Music, Its Secret Influence Throughout the Ages. Well, so do I. But I don't confine it to just music but to all the plastic and visual arts as well as of literature.
A conscious policy to level everyone and everything, arising out of blind allegiance to a worthless ideology; communism, no doubt among some of its most deluded adherents, as a means to promote world peace, no doubt well intentioned, there has been a process of elevating from obscurity, from the very dregs of society, elements that are mediocre at best, which has only resulted in a lowering of the caliber of a whole range of human responses and sensitivities that adversely affect basic intelligence in the entire population and much else. The very opposite should have been done, but hasn't been done, out of groundless fears of the cultural hegemony of the Europeans or Americans.
Despite the ideological rhetoric concerning the basic equality of all cultures, English has of necessity become a de facto world language. Those who do not know English are in a sense doomed to languish in a cultural provincialism that in most cases severely limits their upward mobility. Hence we have a real goal; do whatever it takes to continue this trend and make English the real world language by the end of the 21st century. This does not mean that other languages go away, but it does mean that everyone that expects to succeed must know English.
This fact has already been taken for granted in many parts of the world. In Scandinavia, the Norwegians, Swedes,. Finns and Danes wouldn't think of learning each other's languages. They would rather speak to each other in English which they have all adopted as a de facto second language. The same is happening in Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and to a lesser extent in Slovakia and Slovenia. Even the French were forced to admit that without a working knowledge of English, French scientists would be hopelessly disadvantaged. Therefore the Academie Franšaise declared English to be the world language.
It seems to me quite reasonable to consider an attempt to objectify what seems to be self evident; that some cultural influences affect people in positive ways and that the reverse is also true, and thence to play "hard ball" with the opponents of a better world culture. This initiative as many others can be started on the internet.
If a more advanced race of humanoids was ever to descend from the skies, as many ancient legends aver already happened in the distant past, the influence of their superior culture and technology would instantly affect humanity and many of the worst forms of popular culture would wither away as inferior or negative by comparison. This too is said to have happened. It has also happened around the world in the last 200 years. One very common legacy of negative human culture; cannibalism, has virtually disappeared. Only a few disordered people, usually holding obscure posts in some universities, mourn its demise. Alas, slavery, is still alive and well in a few of the poorest, most backward countries.
THE HIERARCHICAL NATURE OF LEADERSHIP.
It's like gravity; smaller objects revolve around larger objects and the largest of all give off great light and heat to the lesser objects in its gravitational field. The absence of a gravitational system is conversely, absolute cold, which is inimical to life as we know it and of course empty space. As in physics, so too in human affairs.
Therefore it is essential to train up the leadership of tomorrow. This leadership must be derived from the best and brightest to be discovered among every race, tribe and nation of human beings on the earth. For instance, in order to save Africa, an African leadership must be developed that will bring Africa out of bondage to its miseries. The same goes for other parts of the world. To this effort, talent scouts must find those who are willing to undergo a form of rigorous training in the more advanced countries and then a period of internship for the development of their skills in their native lands. This has already been going on to a limited extent. But the problems among others have been these;
1. Some have been educated and trained up in ideologies that are inherently evil; communism. The leadership so trained is indoctrinated in the reverse ethics of brutality, deceit, totalitarianism and destruction. The revolution is not merely Godless but Satanic, incapable of delivering the idealized view of society promised and is therefore fraudulent.
2. Those who were trained somewhere else very often ended up never going back to their countries of origin because they had become so accustomed to the manners, comforts and conveniences of life in the countries where they were educated; formerly Great Britain and nowadays, the United States, Canada and other parts of Europe, that they were never desirous of ever returning. This phenomena is a variant in the truism that only those educated to appreciate certain things or who in even more rare cases possess natural appreciation for the "better things" of an advanced culture are loathe to return to a society or culture where such rare beauties of life are unknown or unappreciated.
3. Where some form of internship was attempted in the home country, effectiveness of the leadership's development has been hindered by insufficient funds, local bureaucracies, wars, revolutions, communism, etc. It is certainly difficult to change the outlook of an entire nation when their best and brightest cannot even function within their own countries.
ECONOMICS IS A HARD SCIENCE.
Or economics is relatively harder a science than most political theorists on the left would like to believe, and FINANCE is to Economics what Physics is to the rest of science. Since its emergence in the 18th century, modern Finance has ruled the world beginning with the nations that adopted it first, Great Britain and the United States, against those that stuck with the fixed asset based model of value, usually fixed on gold, silver or some other commodity. France under Napoleon, Russia under the Czars, Spain, Italy, etc. clung to this asset based model in most cases to their ruin.
Finance is viewed by some as an alchemy or as some kind of magic. It allows a few people who understand how it operates to determine the wealth of nations by determining the optimum level of credit available and TO WHOM it will be given and FROM WHOM it will be denied. Does Finance allow value to be created out of nothing? No, it allows the MEASURES OF VALUE to be created or destroyed. Real value is created or destroyed through the workings of supply and demand that depending upon relative scarcities in goods and services, determines a given price at a given place at a given time. The economic basis and good of speculation is that it tends to moderate price fluctuations over great distances.
I assume that Finance will continue to operate based on the profit motive and that there is nothing inherently evil in Finance or the profit motive. I regard these as about as permanent as gravity. Anyone who has dared to monkey with the ineluctable realities of classical economics, especially Finance, has doomed themselves and in some cases millions of people to misery, poverty, war and starvation.
No matter what happens, the profit motive and all it implies, the buying and selling of units which measure value by other units that measure claims on such value will continue. Even a transaction of stock shares for tokens of currency is a barter. Where these transactions are sophisticated, civilizations rise. When they become more crude as in the exchange of a few sheep for some goats, they fall.
All potential humanitarians had best get used to accepting Finance as a fact of life in some form or another and stop trying to turn back the clocks of history. Communism was essentially anti-financial just as surely as Nazism and Fascism were. As implied earlier, Napoleon wasn't just beaten by Wellington, but by the Finance that backed Wellington and paid his troops. That war once lost should never be fought again.
Many find it regrettable that a few bankers, mostly Jewish, control the strings of international finance. This is sadly largely a matter of propaganda and not quite the case. The modern financial system was begin in fact by the Huguenots who came to England from France in the early 18th century and later taken over by the Scots and Jews. That Finance has been allied with some rather unsavory political alliances in the past has been a measure of its power to do evil as well as to do good. Nevertheless Finance is a real power because it is based on real economic science. Even if its measures are counted only in computerized files, it will never pass away. It was a power in ancient times as evidenced by ancient tablets recording letters of credit which are among the oldest extant documents of mankind. Finance must thus be respected, used not abused.
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING FORWARD.
During the colonial period of the last few centuries, which by the range of ancient myths and legends might not have been the last such episode of colonization on this planet, there was an attitude exemplified by the phrase "white man's burden" by which it was assumed that white Europeans had to shoulder the responsibility for managing the rest of the world as a measure of compensating the other human inhabitants of the planet for their material advantages. It was a kind of guilt. In succeeding periods this guilt was pushed away, first by the non-whites who insisted on running their own affairs in their own ways, whether aided or abetted by the growing menace of communism or not, and later by the whites themselves who in some case adopted the cynical attitude that since it didn't pay for them to manage the world in a civilized way that they would jolly well let the poor bastards stew in their own aboriginal barbarism. Something better than these attitudes is clearly required. I am not claiming that I know what it is. I am sensible that I know what it is not.
We are now in a new century, a new mi8llenium that is seeing the global village rapidly becoming a global metropolis. We have the emergence in the last few short years of the 20th century a new and very powerful tool for anticipating global social change; the internet. I am no prophet, but I can see the time coming when Jesus' words, that when he returned everyone would see it at the same time all around the world, will be realized through the aegis of the internet.
The internet will eventually merge the basic forms of communication, entertainment media, computing and education into a McLuhanesque vision of the electronic circuitry of the globe that will eventually become completely wireless; satellites will eventually convey the internet to all parts of the world, even very remote and isolated places. Most of its information will be in English. The new cadre of leaders will all be conversant with the ways and means of the internet. They will have to be.
Technology will continue in the direction of smaller, cheaper, more powerful. We will eventually even wear our computers in clothing that will wash itself. These wearable computers will allow us to extend many of our natural senses. In doing so, our very cultures will change. Even more bizarre combinations of human and machine may be possible. Nanotech will be able to devise ways to manufacture everything we need from scraps of unrelated matter. If we want some gold we can have it made for us out of a clod of coal or a piece of wood. Nanotech will completely change our view of vital raw materials. It may also change the ways we view our own biology.
Will our ethics be so plastic as to encourage or allow such tampering with what we now assume to be sacrosanct human parameters? This is altogether why more needs to be done to determine the directions we should and should not take ahead of time by facing down the ethical considerations now before it is too late to do anything to affect them.
Jacques Ellul, the famous Jewish-French jurist who wrestled with the ethics of Christianity and Marxism all his life, nevertheless was capable of arriving at some very astute observations. His most remarkable book was called Technique in French and The Technological Society in English. In it, Ellul said that technology has much the same effect as a drop of ink in a glass of clear water. No matter how large the glass, the effect of that single drop of ink is to permeate that clear water so completely that eventually it all becomes cloudy. Technology cannot be kept out once it enters and it changes and occasionally destroys everything and anything it contacts.
This concept is not new. Automobiles made buggy whips disappear except among the Amish. Pocket calculators not only changed the value of mastering arithmetic, but they made slide rules obsolete. Radio and television have made newspapers almost anachronistic. The pace has been slower but eventually there will be little need for them. The internet will eventually spell the doom of newspapers and magazines. Technology not only creates but destroys.
But technological cultures contacting primitive ones have had other unforeseen affects. Cargo planes carrying supplies into remote areas of Micronesia during World War II eventually spawned new folk religions, the "cargo cults", to such an extent that native peoples will still clear land and make airstrips in order to attract cargo planes which they regard as supernatural beings bearing inside them great gifts of cargo. Who knows what our ancient ancestors might have witnessed in the distant past? It is now acknowledged as a great archeological mystery that ancient civilizations appear to have risen to great technical heights without any perceptible evolution and from these heights, containing so many of the firsts of civilization, took much longer to decline and fade away.
BIG CHALLENGES AHEAD.
We have also to confront the realities of our home planet's geology. The weather does seem to operate in cycles and most of the cold epochs appear to have been much longer than the warmer ones. This has also been true of civilizations as remarked by Wil and Ariel Durant, who said that civilization appears to have been the exception, barbarism the rule. If we really care about the human condition of the impoverished in Africa, Asia or even in developed parts of the world, we must look to the safety and security of the parts of the world out of which the greatest benefits for the whole of mankind are most likely to arise. The head must be fed or the stomach will remain empty, etc. These realities must it seems to me be addressed vigorously with great intent and then publicized widely and supported by as great a constellation of the best and brightest minds that we can interest to do the work.
The clock of time and of human destiny is ticking on to some inevitable showdown with history. Every 2 seconds another human being is born. What will their future be like? There are several races underway right now and nobody knows where the finish lines are; ethics vs. technology, human population vs. the carrying capacity of the planet; food, WATER, air and land. We will know, those of us who are alive to see it, which side will win these races, a few of which will be horrendously destructive and perhaps compel the remnant to return to more barbarous conditions of life. We cannot allow ourselves the illusion that the times ahead will be quieter or gentler than today's rushing pace of change. If history is any indicator they will be far more dangerous for the remnant that is left and far more brutal. These times must be staved off at all cost; civilizations have a right to fight for their survival.
Nature can be and has been studied with a motive to understand its patterns. Steady state models including Darwinian evolution are held onto as hotly by scientists as sacred relics once were by very primitive peoples. The facts strongly argue for a far stranger reality in human origins; that Nature has been relatively elastic but that there have been many very sudden changes that have brought about MASS EXTINCTIONS. We may pat ourselves on the back that humans have probably been around a very long time, probably many tens of millions of years and have managed to survive; that we may not ever, even now, have been capable of causing one of these terrible natural events. But we don't know that for sure either.
We have been deceived by our scientists who have rather wanted to create a more acceptable picture of our origins or of past earth history that has really been true. For instance, fragments said to be of proto-homanid beings were either not of humans nor of our direct ancestors or they were of extremely diseased, malnourished humans whose skeletal fossils retain evidence of great pain and suffering in the remote past. These fossils bear records of just how ignorant poor humanity was in the distant past as the poor who suffer in backward places today.
The reality of these kinds of natural global catastrophes was considered very likely by scientists of the seventeenth century who were living through a mini ice age and is now gaining more respect, especially among younger scientists. We need not only to be prepared, we need a proactive stance against the forces of nature and the geological cycles of the earth itself. If anyone believes that humanity deserves a brighter future, it is high time to start thinking really big. I hope it isn't already too late, else it may be, "after us, the deluge".
Some scientists are already coming up with quite extraordinary concepts. Michio Kaku is one of them. He's a professor of theoretical physics at CCNY and author of many well regarded books. After a brief digression, I'll get back to his ideas which deal with mankind assuming a greater control over nature. Some have dubbed Kaku the next Carl Sagan. Like Sagan, Kaku is basically a philosophical materialist, but with some interesting reservations. Since there has been such warfare between science and theology for something like three hundred years, maybe it's just been an article of academic respectability to be skeptical about a personal God. Maybe it goes deeper than that, the blind adherence to the plodding materialism of Aristotle, whom his teacher Plato regarded as a dolt, or maybe its just that scientists misplace their faith elsewhere.
How is it that conventional scientists continue to try and back up the Big Bang long after credible evidence for it has been fading away without severely warping the mathematics justifying it by adding this or that coefficient? Why is there so much money spent in trying to discover "dark matter" that is supposed to exist to satisfy the rules of this fading theory? There is no dark matter. The universe is not expanding. It always was and is and will always be. And the laws of thermodynamics can and are broken.
Why has Darwinism hung on so long? Why so much emotionalism form those who claim they aren't being emotional? Do we so dislike the idea that a personal God may have created us in his own image and likeness in an essentially endless and forever universe that is in some sense a coequal creation? Why does this idea fill some of us with such unholy dread? Are we perhaps a bit more afraid of encountering our creator than we'd like to admit?
What if it turns out that our creation is nothing more than a turn of a screw? What if our literal creators were other humanoid beings themselves created by other more advanced beings and so on and so on ad infinitum? Do we feel unfulfilled living in an endless and forever universe that is and always has been essentially the same? And even then, how much do we really know? It's a wonder that we can recognize love when it finds us.
WHERE WE ARE NOW.
Let's face up to some realities including the fact that we know so very little! Only 200 years ago they bled people in hopes of making them feel better. That therapy killed George Washington, among others. He only had a bad case of strep throat. If he'd had penicillin, he might have lived another twenty years or more.
Now as for Michio Kaku, he theorizes, simply on the vastness of the universe, that there must be any number of extraterrestrial civilizations out there, some of which may have contacted us in the distant past or even surreptitiously at the present. He doesn't suggest that one of them may have created us, that's the contribution of Zecharia Sitchin. It's a good bet that many of them are humanoid too, but that's a long argument and takes us away from the subject. Kaku doesn't bother to try and find them or describe them in any exact terms. He merely speculates about their survival instead, particularly how did they make it past some of the natural hurdles that mankind has encountered and will encounter in the future?
Kaku describes our planetary civilization as a Type Zero; we haven't left our home planet yet. A Type One civilization has survived the discovery of atomic fission and progressed to colonize its immediate solar system and is investigating its galactic environment. A Type Two civilization may mostly live in outer space, navigate an entire galaxy and a Type Three civilization might be able to leap around among galaxies. Each one takes a quantum leap of technology and along the way there are obstacles that can in some cases pose ultimate extinction of that civilization.
Kaku is aware that the latest discoveries in physics point to a relation between gravity and energy that might make the leap to the other side of the solar system or to another galaxy about the same feat. So he is aware of the plasticity of this concept; the next step off the earth for humans might make us able to visit Andromeda as easily as Alfa-Centari.
Nevertheless Kaku is honestly skeptical that humans will ever get so far because of what he sees as the ethical weaknesses in humanity itself. This gets us right back to where we started; without a concrete definition of human ethics, everything else may be wasted effort. In order for humans to accept the responsibilities of a higher order civilization, we as a planet must become so ethical that it is almost an inbred human trait. The seven deadly sins would be subject to severe re-education and these traits would have to be virtually extinct in all of humanity for us to progress beyond the confines of this planet.
Our average life span would also need to be vastly increased so that we would literally have enough time to do more necessary work. I don't necessarily agree that all extraterrestrials must be ethically good and I'm not sure Kaku really does either, but I don't disagree with his analysis either.
Since we know that this planet is subject to ice ages and some have now theorized that a global superstorm following upon a brief period of global warming is a possible natural mechanism, with or without the human addition of greenhouse gasses, we must in any case learn enough about meteorology and astrophysics to discover the technology to alter the weather so that ice ages no longer reappear on earth. However with this knowledge comes the possibility of its use by some humans as a weapon against other humans with the disastrous result that we doom the planet not only to being unable to sustain us but any life like ours. Some think this has also happened here on this planet in the distant past. As evidence they point to many very strange megalithic structures of impossible antiquity scattered around the globe that speak of great ancient civilizations that have brought about their own destruction. There are also a number of similar mythic stories about disastrous events caused by the actions of thoughtless or evil leaders, some using mysterious powers or machines.
We don't know for sure what happened in the distant past on our own planet. We know so little. So we invent equally strange myths about evolution by natural selection which we accept with even less proof. We know nothing of what we should know. It seems that we had better start finding out about some things if we ever intend to save North America or Europe let alone Africa, South America or Asia. Just because we don't know for sure is no reason to continue to think that not knowing is preferable to attempting to find a means of doing something to forestall our own destruction. Michio Kaku theorizes that really high civilizations may know so much more about the physical laws of the universe that they are able to literally gather energy directly from stars or even create them out of cosmic dust. An interesting question to ask an astronomer might be if there has ever been seen a star where there wasn't a star the night before.
The 21st century is dawning. There is as always plenty of constructive work to be done. But it is, as Alfred North Whitehead observed, the business of the future to be dangerous. If we would save the poor and wretched of the earth, there must be a global dawning of awareness among the blessed of the earth that their situation is not automatically assured. Just as the mighty lion must occasionally give up a kill to a bunch of wily hyenas lest he be attacked in his moment of triumph and spent strength, so must the developed be willing to give up its comfortable notions for the sake of the underdeveloped lest the wretched of the earth tear the fabrics of civilization apart not so much by their own efforts as by the mass of vermin they introduce into the more developed world; diseases, plagues, blights, mass migrations, terrorism, etc. etc.
And by the same token the lion needs to change, to acquire the instincts of the owl, the smarts to outwit the hyenas and survive. For only a lion can be a fit king of the jungle. Rule by hyenas is simply unthinkable.
As I see it, the first assumption is that we as a race know precisely zilch about our situation compared to what we need to know. We don't even know where we came from, where everything comes from. In order not only to survive but to prosper as a race, there is so much more to be learned. Let us hope we have the time and that our pursuits of the truth are successful.