Independence Day is nearly upon us. Usually, it is a time of celebration, going on picnics with friends, hitting the beach, watching the fireworks. After a drunken booze fest weekend, we all go back to work and carry on with our normal American lives. It is one of the only weekends of camaraderie, but then it disintegrates- at least, in the larger cities. Because of this, I'm issuing a challenge to all of America for the following year, starting July 5th, and not January 1st.
Whatever happened to building a community and neighbourhood? Is it really necessary for people to live for themselves, or just their family members, when there is so much pain and suffering happening within a few miles of them? As I mentioned in an earlier post, people have become jaded to the term "9/11" now, and just like that event, people are seeing but not seeing so many other issues happening around them.
One example of this is the poor, but an even more obvious one is the environment. As difficult as it is to give a stranger money, sometimes, you just don't have the money on you, but there is no excuse for dropping garbage on the side of the road. There are streams of garbage in any city of any size. There's garbage in small communities of a few hundred. Thousands of years have gone by and along with all our civilizations' problems, one of the main ones that never goes away is garbage. Why is it that we can solve polio, and have computers at home, and get to the moon, but we can't be bothered to find a solution to the bits of plastic we keep creating?
Imagine for a moment a time when all citizens are required to report for garbage duty, like jury duty. Every citizen in a city devotes one or two workdays a year to picking up garbage off the side of a road. If this happened just one day a week through the summer months, and maybe once a month in winter, the city would be so much cleaner. Groups like the Boy Scouts will go clean up garbage along the edge of a highway, but we completely ignore our backyards. Five hours out of the year is not much to ask for, and maybe if people are confronted with the problem directly, maybe, just maybe, we could change how we live.
Another aspect of community is how we get to work. I don't need to get into the problems that our current modes of transportation give us, but imagine instead the communal ride to work. Streams of workers getting onto buses and avoiding their cars altogether. The commute to work would be people talking together, forming larger networks, and be able to relax. I highly doubt anyone is truly productive on the subway or train trying to do work before they get into the office. Let a job stay a job at the office, and don't start your day any earlier than you have to. Communities build safer, stronger, smarter cities. I challenge anyone out there to pose to me the problems that would exist in a united community centre.
This goes hand-in-hand with the first item, but deserves expanding. There are hundreds, thousands, millions of different points of view in the world. I don't agree with all of them, and I probably shouldn't either. Agreeing with a statement/ideology may be too much, too extreme to handle. But the opposite of agreeing, denouncing it, is not proper either. What we need is a society who accept the fact that other ideas exist and encourages the expansion of thought in the world. The collective thoughtpool of our species is what has allowed us to survive for so long, so we should embrace ideas and not steer ourselves towards a monothought civilization.
The most dramatic acceptance of thought is how we are gathered together as a people, the political and sociological thought. I wrote another post about this, so I won't delve into it again. The second, and possibly even more important, is through how we treat our morals and what is dear to us. This net I'm casting covers everything from gay marriage, legalizing marijuana, whether eating an animal is right/wrong, whether eating a dog or cat is tasty/disgusting, or whether right-handed people are smarter than left-handers.
It is not wise to become too comfortable in this environment, especially in the modern age where ideas that used to belong solely inside an individual are becoming more known through blogs, webpages, podcasts, cellphones, etc. The thoughtpool is a volatile place, constantly shifting, adding pieces to it, taking away, etc. Always evolving, the thoughtpool is a place to explore and play. People may call space or deep underseas the last great frontier, but those spaces have nothing on the thoughtpool. Unlike its finite cousins, the thoughtpool can go on forever if it so wishes and nothing short of killing every single computer on the earth will stop it. It's an impossible task.
Like our ancestors who refused to change to their world when it changed with the Ice ages, or were unwilling to try a new animal as a source of energy, the human who becomes conservative in their mindset will soon be extinct, left behind for an era that we humans have surpassed. The way forward is acceptance; the way backwards is ignorance.
I want America to explore this thoughtpool with an open eye and arms spread wide in an embrace. There is only one way to get into the thoughtpool, and that is to immerse yourself in it. Talk with people of different backgrounds, read authors outside of pop culture, surf the internet and read different websites, listen to different kinds of music. Get involved with different activities and you, and America, will benefit. You will ensure the survival of the human species.
Because the lack of acceptance in the great nation of America, thousands of men and women are in trouble. Our society is too swift to knockdown a voice of dissent, and America goes all out in its punishment of these people, short of execution. Perhaps execution is on the horizon if we continue in our ways, but these individuals are publicly humiliated on a large national front, books become banned/unpublished, maybe prison. The United States has become one of the conservative regimes of the Middle East that we have despised for so long.
A cleaning of the slate is needed.
Allow the free thinkers to go free and be the people they are meant to be. Humiliate and punish the people who initially harassed these great minds. Crack down on the people who throw weak insults and excuses at these people, and only allow credible, intelligent discussions to happen about the ideas presented. The slandering of ideas is not only unproductive, it is a dangerous activity to be undertaking. Promoting inner-conflict to separate the people destroys our society and all the energy that went into creating it.
Clubbing people with words and not ideas is such a primitive thing to do.