Some might be familiar with the work of Steven Pinker whose book Enlightenment Now! makes an impressive case for the world being in far greater shape than we generally consider. Pinker presents data showing how our rates of violence are lower than ever, how many have escaped from abject poverty, and how much healthier and longer living we are.
Seemingly running counter to the popular narrative, he cites the media and negative news culture as being the primary source of our apparent negative view of the state of things. He’s definitely right about that and it’s nice to hear someone of his stature starting to recognise the disastrous effects of our fear-mongering media. It’s also very refreshing to hear someone talking the world up rather than down!
However, though I can’t argue his statistics and cheerful optimism showing how much better off we are today than twenty years ago, there are a couple of problems with his summation in my view:
1. No-one today (eg. in western culture) thinks that running water, or electricity, or even internet are a big deal. They have quickly become the expected minimum standards.
In other words, human expectations are forever on a sliding scale. We literally don’t care what life was like twenty years ago. While it’s certainly of interest to scientists, the vast majority of people are only concerned with the issues and environment that surround them today. And we still have plenty of problems and things to solve in our world today.
2. There is something awry with modern society and all its technological conveniences that I don’t think is fully understood yet. (And this should be of interest to RBE advocates too) Suicide rates in developed countries are rising. Mental health issues are becoming epidemic. Digital connections are replacing real world connections. We are becoming digital dope addicts. In some ways, we are connected too much, and in other ways, too little. There is much more to be learned, I feel, in this apparent inverse relationship between scientific progress and human happiness. It certainly seems the more technologically proficient we become, the more detached and miserable we get.
Obviously it’s of little comfort to someone on the brink of suicide or suffering stress and anxiety to say that ‘life is better today than twenty years ago!
My personal theory on this is that perhaps the more we lean on technology, the more physically (and ultimately emotionally) redundant we become. We are, after all, genetically programmed to toil somewhat in order to support our existence, and perhaps when that toil is removed, it has unexpected emotional consequences.
This is why I don’t fully support a wholly scientific (RBE) approach to addressing society’s problems or planning for a moneyless future. What might appear to be the most efficient solution might not actually be the best one for us ‘spiritually’.
For example, which of the following would you choose? You could stand and watch a self-driving electric combine harvester harvest a field in half an hour then have the rest of the day off to do as you please. Or, you could be part of a team of workers spending the day harvesting that field with tools, enjoying the elements, the exercise, the camaraderie and having a celebratory dinner afterwards. The first option is certainly easier and the more efficient, but the second option may arguably be much better for your spirit and feelings of self-worth.
This is a somewhat extreme example, but it demonstrates the point. My guess is that most people would choose the first option, and, admittedly, it’s a difficult choice to argue.
So what is the goal of this thing we call ‘progress’? Just to have less and less things to do? That certainly seems to be the general direction, but is that really the best possible outcome for humanity? To become static consumers of the spoils of mechanization – perhaps until we too are mechanized?
Shouldn’t the goal of progress be to create a happier society – whatever that entails?
I think so. Like so many things we find in life, the answer is in striking the right balance. The balance between leisure and intrinsically-rewarding labour. Between science and spirituality. Between freedom and responsibility. Between the utility of digital connections and the joy of physical ones.
Statistically, yes we are better off than we were twenty years ago. But are we happier? I’m not so sure.
Although Facebook pages’ reach has plummeted over the years, they do still offer valuable social proof that people are interested in the ideas that you promote. Here I’ve made it super-easy for anyone to check and add a like to each of the various projects I am involved in. If you like these ideas, please like and follow these Facebook pages.
My author fan page:
Freeworlder.com – a listings page for our free-sharing network:
The Free World Charter – 10 principles on which to found a better society:
Free World One – our hybrid, philanthropic company that administers all projects:
HonorPay – an open awards and appreciation network:
An initiative to propose Iceland as the first money-free country:
PlayUp Games – educational project to teach better values in schools:
As a self-professed 99% vegan* for more than five years, I have been exposed (in my social filter bubble) to pretty much every argument, meme and statistical fact in favour of veganism out there. Everything from the shape of our teeth (or not), to comparing meat and broccoli proteins, to those hilarious 9GAG cartoons bemoaning the vegan’s lot when it comes to socialising among ‘normal’ people.
While I generally applaud such efforts to wrench people’s habits and attention away from this kind of ‘normal’, I am increasingly finding myself a little uneasy in the face of many vegans’ unreasonable denial of the obvious. If you’re vegan and of a sensitive nature, look away now…
Eating meat and animal products is perfectly natural and normal. Devouring the flesh of another beast to secure your nutrients is an absolutely reasonable way to behave. In nature, there is no right or wrong way to eat. All organic creatures must devour other organic creatures to survive. However you choose to compose your menu is entirely up to you.
This is not my argument against veganism. This is physics.
And then there are the arguments about the side-effects of an animal diet, ie. methane emissions, forest-felling, water and grain consumption, etc. To be honest, these are not things most people think about when they sit down to their Sunday roast, so consistently admonishing their ignorance doesn’t really create any winners.
It can also be conceivably argued that such ill-effects on the environment could be remedied in ways other than changing our eating habits. For example, lab meat, tighter controls on forest-felling, greening desert spaces, better water and waste management systems, sequestering methane emissions or modifying feeds to reduce them, etc., are also possible solutions.
Also I don’t honestly believe there’s a valid health argument for going vegan for anyone who eats meat as part of a varied, balanced and fresh-food diet. In fact, there is equally plenty of evidence that a badly managed vegan diet can cause long term health complications if left unchecked. Complications with B12 and calcium deficiency being the most obvious.
So maybe it’s time for me to stop being vegan and go and treat myself to a big bloody steak?
Well, it’s possibly too late for me as I’m already acutely averse to the thought of eating animal flesh, but aside from that, if a vegan argument can be quite readily dismantled, then why be vegan?
Well, there’s still one small problem. One nagging argument which cannot be dismissed so easily – and one that is possibly the most important thing happening in the world today:
The rise of compassion.
As our recent technologically-endowed prosperity has lifted us further and further from the animal domain, something unexpected has happened. We are becoming more conscientious and compassionate about the fate of others. And this is giving rise – not just to veganism – but to a generally higher state of awareness and increased empathy, creating a new wave of philanthropic and environmentally-conscious movements all over the world.
Everything from the Geneva Convention, to the UN Charter on Human Rights, the sixties’ civil rights and peace movements, the collapse of communism and despotic regimes, Live Aid, Greenpeace, Occupy, the advent of post-market movements and veganism – all of which chart the trajectory of a species that is breaking up with old methods and adopting compassion for others as part of its core activity.
I think many vegans fall too easily into the trap of spending their time trying to justify their choice through biology, when in fact this has most likely not been their leading motive for making that choice. Perhaps this is because large swathes of our society still strangely view compassion as a weak argument for anything. Thankfully this is changing.
I see a species diverging in front of our eyes. Many more now are choosing the compassionate path, leaving those still languishing in the blind brutality of yesteryear.
Veganism is not on the rise. It’s a symptom. Something else is on the rise – a species coming of age, becoming aware of its true power and the ensuing weight of its responsibility to those under its influence. I think it’s even evolutionarily significant enough to warrant a name. Let’s call them homo compassio – Compassionate Man.
On June 15th 1215, King John of England met a rebellious group of English barons in a meadow by the Thames to discuss peace terms in an effort to avert civil war. Deeply unpopular and his kingdom in turmoil, the king wasted little time in agreeing to the barons’ terms and affixing his royal seal to their Magna Carta Libertatum (Great Charter of the Liberties) – or Magna Carta as it later became known.
An excerpt from F-Day: The Second Dawn of Man, narrated by Colin R. Turner:
F-Day -3145: Iceland is in economic freefall. President Reyksson makes an impassioned televised plea to the nation.
‘Wonderfully narrated by the author, F-Day: The Second Dawn Of Man is a story of transition from the old world to the new. Businessman Karl Drayton decides to make a small change in his life which causes him to begin questioning many of society’s established norms. His voyage of understanding ultimately puts him on a quest to change the world.’
Download the F-Day Audio Book Press Release.
It seems to be a rite of passage that if you subscribe to the ideology of a money-free world, you must also believe that 911 was an ‘inside job’. There may be a few reasons for this. Firstly, Peter Joseph’s popular and controversial film ‘Zeitgeist’ (2007) which tackled 911, religion, the banking cartel and other challenges to mainstream thinking may have had a lot to do with it. The movie was a thrilling exposé which ultimately spawned The Zeitgeist Movement, other movies and books promoting a money-free philosophy.
But perhaps the link between the 911 ‘inside job’ conspiracy theory and the money-free ideology lies at the heart of where these kinds of conspiracies come from and how they take hold. But more on this later.
Here’s a great opportunity to get your hands on both these books for free!
I am doing a promotion and giving away three bundles of both copies, signed, sealed and delivered before Christmas!
So, what do you have to do? Well, not a whole lot – Sign The Free World Charter (if you haven’t already), then share this post from FWC page on Facebook. That’s all you have to do – and it’s a great way to help us spread the message!
The promotion runs until December 15th, and three winners will be selected at random.
I hope you have a great holiday and look forward to exciting new things in 2018!
Colin R. Turner
No-one – and everyone!
The thing is to stop being dependent on outside agencies by becoming responsible and self-regulating. Once we assume ultimate responsibility for ourselves and others, we will always act in ways that serve each other in a positive way.Regulation is merely a blunt tool to stop people doing stupid or crazy things, but in a properly educated society, this is no longer necessary. We can cultivate appropriate behaviour through education, not brute force.
There’s a bit of a chicken and egg thing going on here. Some people believe changing the environment will bring change in people. Others believe changing people’s behaviour must happen first. Of course, both are right to a degree. We are shaped by our environment, but we also shape our environment with our actions.
Clearly the world is at a crossroads, with many groups claiming we need a radical system shake-up. But is a money-free world really the answer? More to the point, is it even possible? I discussed my take on these issues and tackled the tough questions in a recent interview. Here’s the full transcript…