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Providing for Needs

IMG_20180420_115253148If we want to prevent future conflicts over scarce resources, we should begin now to ensure that everyone has what he or she needs—not necessarily everything they want, but what is needed. That’s not a new idea. It’s as old as sacred texts in every faith tradition of the world. Treat others the way we would want to be treated.

 

That’s all well and good, but one person’s need may be another’s extravagance. What is today’s “luxury” may be “essential” tomorrow—consider cell phones as a recent example. Fortunately, the definition of need is not merely subjective, subject to the whims of the speaker. Continue reading “Providing for Needs”

Equality

What if equality meant everyone gets what they need?

IMG_20171025_120811584_HDROne of the concepts undergirding the United States is “All people are created equal.” My grandfather used to add, “… but some are more equal than others.” His way of pointing out that equality does not mean sameness.

We do not have equal resources. There are differences in financial, intellectual, environmental, or safety resources. Those who are poor, women, minority, old, children, non-heterosexual, or a non-conformist in any way have additional burdens heaped on them—nothing equal or respectful about such practices.

When I was in college, we were told the equality is about being “equal before the law.” Anyone who still believes that hasn’t seen a newspaper, tv news, legal drama, or Facebook recently.

So, if we are to searching for some degree of equality—where would our search begin?

As I created a future version of our world based on increased respect and well-being, I consider an “equitable treatment of all” to be a stabilizing principle. Many of the arguments we observe come from a perception that someone else has an unfair advantage. The advantage often comes from a position of power—especially when abuse is possible. Anything from the landlord precipitously raising rents, or pharmaceutical manufactures quadrupling the price of an essential medication, to the bully on the playground picking on the more vulnerable ones.

So, how do we change to create a future where egalitarian principles are the norm?

First, we need to remember: we are all in this together. We have one planet to share. A volcanic eruption in Iceland can impact the air flights over much of the world. Weather changes in South America impact the coffee drinkers everywhere. And the resentment, or anger of one individual with a gun effects the lives of hundreds, thousands, even the whole world. At the same time, when a soccer team is rescued from a cave in Thailand, the entire world rejoices.

We also need to recognize that each of us has something positive to contribute to the common good. Therefore, we must depend on each other. There are many jobs I cannot do because I possess neither the skill nor the equipment to accomplish them. Whether it’s a surgeon saving a life, or a computer tech fixing a problem—they are providing services I cannot. Similarly, tasks are done by others that I lack the time or will to do. Picking the food we eat, building highways, running restaurants, and keeping the utilities on to name only a few.

So, if I’m unwilling or unable to provide a service I need, then I must depend on someone else. So, shouldn’t I be willing to pay the person adequately for their work? Faith challenges us to not think more highly of one’s self, than others. In other words, we should consider the other’s contribution just as significant as our own.

Finally, compensation should provide essentials for everyone. Those include quality food, an appropriate, safe place to live, education for a fulfilling job, healthcare, and transportation when needed. This should be everyone’s minimum compensation. A migrant worker, CEO of a corporation, plumber, typist, teacher, domestic worker, or President of a University all deserve the same essentials.

 

In The Doorkeeper’s Secrets, my version of the future equality is created by giving everyone the opportunity to live productive, secure lives. In my “future” everyone is compensated at an adequate level to provide all those essentials. If one finds the need for a different job, retraining is available. A collaborative social order creates opportunities for satisfying work. We depend upon one another and respect each other. When this becomes the case, there is no place for abuse, prejudice, greed, or arrogance.

If you would like to know more about this future, I invite you to read The Doorkeeper’s Secrets and comment on the possibility of such a future. The second book in the Sheltered Cities Series is expected out in September. More about The Doorkeeper’s Mind soon.

The next several blogs will reflect on an approach for understanding and addressing human needs. You’re invited to join in the discussion.

 

Future Parents

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Parenting has been called the most critical job anyone ever undertakes. Yet, for most of us, we have no instruction and few ways to tell if we are competent. Many of the personality scars that lead to anti-social behavior, violence, dishonesty, bullying, prejudice, and poor adaptability can be traced (at least in part) to inadequate parental supervision or support.

So how do we change this picture? In The Doorkeeper’s Secrets, the responsibility of child-raising is identified as a job. Like any other job, people are educated, qualified, supported, and evaluated regularly.

Continue reading “Future Parents”

Tribute to a Friend

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Friends are important. All my life, I’ve heard dogs described as “Man’s Best Friend.” More appropriate language would be “human’s best non-human friend.”

Saying goodbye to a friend—regardless of how many legs they have is difficult. Particularly true for introverts who tend to have fewer but deeper relationships. Two weeks ago, my four-legged companion departed this life.

Continue reading “Tribute to a Friend”

Foundational Principles Revisited

IMG_20180407_192528841Let’s take one more look at the Five Foundational Principles of an Interdependent Society. In my novel, The Doorkeeper’s Secrets, the goal is to birth a society where everyone is dependable; therefore, we can expect others to act with our (and their) best interest in mind.

 

The five foundational principles create a matrix enabling everyone to give their best efforts, be safe, and find joy in their work, families, activities, and lives. The diagram attempts to illustrate how that might work.

Continue reading “Foundational Principles Revisited”

Creating a Viable Future Principle 5: The Common Good

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe fifth and final principle for creating the kind of future envisioned in the novel, The Doorkeeper’s Secrets is supporting the Common Good. In many ways, this is the most important of the five.

Without the “leveling” influence of the Common Good, each of the other four principles could be distorted—either deliberately or by the over-enthusiastic supporters.

For example, Faith could be turned into an exclusive measuring rod projecting one interpretation as superior to all others. Vigilance could be shaped into mob-like squashing any deviance from the “accepted norm.” Even community can become a collection of people who look and think alike; effectively banning anyone with new ideas or perspectives. Finally, Respect could be interpreted from a self-serving perspective: “if you don’t respect me, I don’t have to respect you” attitude.

However, the Common Good serves as a check against the various abuses that can be misconstrued from the other four. The Common Good becomes the fertile soil where Community Respect and Faith can take root to produce fruit enjoyed by all. Likewise, Vigilance takes up its stand to “ensure the Common Good;” not to impose the will of one group over another.

 

When each of the five principles remains in balance, we have a built-in guard against the excesses which seem to inevitably arise out of human nature. Human nature is imperfect, so there will be people who resist any limitation on their so-called freedom.

In our culture “freedom” has been used as an excuse to enshrine excesses. A common axiom is “One person’s freedom ends when it infringes on another’s right.” I don’t have the freedom to construct a house on someone else’s property. In like manner, no one has the “freedom” to end another person life by violence. Yet it happens every day—and we continue to debate the right of gun ownership, opposed the right to live with less fear for the safety of ourselves and our children.

Suppose we replaced the current axiom with another. “One’s freedom is unlimited until it threatens the Common Good.” That is the basis of my vision of the future. There will be more discussion of weapons and safety for the future in later blogs. For now, let’s look at the role Common Good plays in shaping a positive speculative future.

 

It’s easy to identify things that diminish the Common Good. Listing a few might be helpful in establishing some of the parameters to our thinking.

So, what inhibits support for the Common Good? Inequalities of any kind: racial, gender, age, lineage, nationality, education, financial rewards, physical strength, honors, weapons, or power over others. We could name other places where there are imbalances in our society: access to health care, clean water, healthy food, knowledgeable advocates, jobs with advancement potential, warmth in the winter, and comfort in the summer. Of course, any of us can add to the list.

The goal of the Common Good is not to reduce everyone to the lowest common denominator, but to encourage and enhance everyone’s gifts for the good of all. There will always be differences—it is our differences that give every life value.

One person is a skilled artist, and another can’t draw a stop sign. Assuming the artist desires to pursue art—the goal of creating the “best” for all is to encourage and enhance the artist, so that we may ultimately enjoy or appreciate the art. The Common Good is served when people are encouraged and supported in doing what they enjoy.

But the good of all is not served by having an excess of mediocre artists (or doctors, or teachers, or any other profession). In my vision of the future, there comes a point when those who are performing less than adequately will be encouraged to think about their next career. At some later time, it may become more than a suggestion. Standards for each profession are clear, and regular evaluations confirm progress or suggest issues needing attention. These standards are created and reviewed by practitioners with input from clients for each service.

 

The Doorkeeper’s Secrets version of the future has everyone receiving sufficient income to meet all their needs, have adequate housing, healthy food, highest quality medical care, transportation wherever they need to go, and education to train or re-train for any job for which one qualifies (by temperament and intellectual capacity). The Common Good is served when stress and worry over these things are minimized. Then one can give their attention to their families, their work, and their avocations (hobbies and services).

 

So, friends, tell me what you think about this kind of future. Does the concept of increasing the Common Good introduce some sanity into some of our current discussions? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Creating a Viable Future Principle 4: Respect

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The fourth of the five principles undergirding the collaborative society envisioned in The Doorkeeper’s Secrets is Respect. Community, Vigilance, Faith, Respect, and the Common Good are the five foundational principles needed to create an interdependent society.

One definition says “due regard to the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others… avoid harming or interfering with….” While deep trust needs to be earned—respect should be granted.

Like Vigilance (the second principle) respect starts with the individual. Just as awareness of the world around us is an attitude one must adopt and practice, treating other’s rights, feelings, and traditions in a manner that will not harm them start within the individual.

So, what does it mean if I grant respect to every person I meet or never meet but only hear about from others or the news? Continue reading “Creating a Viable Future Principle 4: Respect”