* an ethical theory that treats self-interest as the foundation of morality.
In a speech at the 20 year anniversary of Democracy! Now, Noam Chomsky said “This generation faces problems that have never been faced before in the past 200,000 years of human history” He went on to say that the issues of nuclear war and global warming are now immediate threats to the human species.
These threats require immediate and drastic collective action on the part of informed and caring citizens of the world.
If only we had such a collective.
What we have instead is widespread public egoism, where the “I” is most important, and the “You” and “We” are merely obstacles. We’ve been heading in this direction for a long time, and an argument can be made that it has contributed to the current state of affairs in the world. Regardless of how we got here, the pervasive egoism that plagues society will contribute to its downfall.
An ideology of consumerism gone awry pushes us to be the first one with whatever is new and hot. The rat race towards the big house, nice car, and general accumulation of “stuff” rewards the individual selfishness that collectively corrupts and dissolves the big picture.
The politics and rhetoric of our time create division along race, class, gender, and ideological lines, ignoring the fundamental reality that at our core we are much more similar than we are different. Everyone is concerned with his or her feelings and what they are offended by – which is shallow and serves no real purpose on a societal level. The politics of division encourages squabbling over frivolous ideas, which serve no real purpose in furthering, or benefitting humanity – it does not do anything to solve complex problems of race or inequality – rather it serves to give someone the satisfaction that they are established on some sort of moral high ground. It is egotistical and full of agendas of all sorts – political, monetary, power.
If we are going to solve the pressing problems of society which immediately threaten this generation and those to come, we need to start connecting and seeing the similarities we have with one another.
I grew up in a suburban area of New Jersey, lived in rural parts of New England and upstate New York, and currently reside in the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles.
These places are all over the spectrum in regards to size, income, and race demographics. But in each of those places everyone desires almost exactly the same things – good health, love, and happiness. We could increase that list in agreement to something much larger. When we boil the conflicts down health, love, and happiness are the things that matter to us, and the problems that face us as humans threaten those common desires of ours.
The identity politics, class warfare, and implanted climate of fear are not designed to solve our most pressing problems or better the world for future generations; they are designed to increase money and power.
We look up to politicians, corporations, and questionable leaders with empty promises, while the problems of today demand that we look over at our neighbors. The solutions don’t start in a distant capital of state or country, they begin next door and down the street, gaining steam until they become louder than the voices of division.
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