Originally posted May 29, 2011
In The May 16, 2011 issue of The New Yorker (an especially fine issue even by that iconic publication’s standards), a Pakistani storekeeper doing business in the neighborhood where Osama had been hiding, says he doesn’t care about that particular struggle, or any other fight going on in the world. He doesn’t want weapons, he says, he wants “light, water, health and education”.
Most people everywhere would echo those words. A huge percentage of the history of the world being written every day, and a huge percent of the money spent each year, is tied up in competitions and power struggles going on over our heads. The people with power are shaping the lives we must live, and we appear to have zero control over that reality.
We live in a democracy, we like to think the world’s best, and certainly the world’s first in modern times (thinking of Athens in the Golden Age as USA-like in a very few respects). We vote – those who still feel it makes a difference or that we would be cowards not to try to make a positive difference. But that’s just it: more than half of us have given up voting, mostly because we are sure that there is nothing we can do that makes any difference whatsoever.
Robert A. Heinlein once mentioned a scale plotting the strength of an individual’s will (and so the probability of that individual’s survival) where the lowest point is named apathy. Giving up, believing that one has zero control, is the very definition of apathy.
Each of us has the potential to move the world. I have seen a little bit of this first hand, in a small microcosm of the Earth called the advertising business. I set out to change it and have already made some markups on it.
Moving an industry takes vast effort every day and is worth it. I recommend it to everyone. Just figure out what would make it better and cautiously make tentative suggestions for a few decades and see what happens.
And now we’ve got the Internet. When I first started thinking about what were called “online services” in the late 60s, the word “democracy” just kept popping up in my head all the time. I saw webcams becoming a part of a new type of social television – something which I am sure will happen at some point in the sequencing of media revolutions still to come.
I hoped to be one of those bringing together positive thinking, socially aware advertisers as sponsors with similarly aware networks to create a new screen programming, totally interactive and melding Town Hall with Delphi techniques, to actually influence the thinking of politicians, and to provide a platform for bringing forth inventions and ideas from the entire citizenry to public attention at large.
I reasoned to myself that even just based on the people and ideas I knew were available, the programming would be entertaining and super informative and would garner a huge rating. People like Norman Cousins, Eric Sevareid, Walter Cronkite and Jimmy Carter, to name just a few, gave positive feedback to some of these ideas, and kept me charged to continue another step in the journey. And then another. I continue to this day, and hope you will join me in the co-creation of democracy social screen programming.
Taking a step back, there is another matter, another toolset we will need along the way. Taking some share of screen audience each day to play a game of running the world, and actually having impact, that’s one thing. But will it go far enough? What are the root causes of the ills we’re trying to cure?
They come back to the need for evolution of the minds of the people at the top. Those who are having the biggest effect on history. They are still getting into wars like the petty kings and dukes of yesteryear. They have not mentally, emotionally, and spiritually evolved far enough to rise above the emotions within that cause them to get us into wars.
So whatever kind of Television/Internet (I have been calling it “screen” to cover all screen media – yes, even cinema) we create, no matter how many great ideas we bring to light, the people who control our lives will only move inches and not miles per year as a result, unless we can get into their heads and make the necessary adjustments. And before we can say this justifiably, we have to get into our own heads and make sure of our own motivations.
If we act out of pride and self-aggrandizement, we are right there with them. Only by taking the long view and the big view – that we are grateful to the Universe for having us, and we want to give back in that spirit by taking care of as much of the world as we can nurture – only by being ourselves nobly motivated can we help make the shift at the top.
This is what I call psychotechnology. It is the subject of my books and videos, which are designed to get the reader/viewer to objectively look inside and consider certain adjustments to get into a higher, more effective state of consciousness.
With psychotechnology and new media we can change the world for the better. It will not be easy nor quick. But it would be cowardly and apathetic to shy away from the task. Let’s do it together.
Impressed by the words of the Pakistani shopkeeper, I made a straw man list of 14 things we should expect from our government. I started where he started and added the rest by stream of consciousness. What you see below is how it came out, not in any systematic order yet.
Of course safety (protection) is on the list, and people who know me know of my great respect for our military. I am not against defense when I write about the need to wind down on wars. I have given many workshops to the military over the years and have met great-hearted and super intelligent people there. People who glom onto psychotechnology without a moment’s hesitation.
I didn’t put protection on the top of the list because, if we do our job right, within a century the world will be run by highly evolved human beings and the need for protection will gradually move down the list. So it came out near the bottom because I was thinking of the future ideal state – the one our children’s children’s children will inherit. Alas it cannot be removed from the top of the list yet – a sad statement about the leadership of the world in general.
That is not a blanket statement about all of the world’s leaders. I think we have some of the smartest – yet they need to look inside to better resolve their emotions into more Solomon-like action reflecting true wisdom.
The following list, being a pro forma, contains items some of which really fall into the bucket of another item on the list – “A Good Economy” would give us many of the others. But for the people who have not, it is worth spelling out even if duplicative.
The list in itself is something we can refine over the next hundred years. Meanwhile let’s get to work on building the screen superhighway through which democracy will flow healing ideas into the minds of those at the control switches.
14 THINGS EVERYONE NEEDS FROM GOVERNMENT
- We need Light
- Water (clean, please, including oceans)
- Clean Air
- A Good Economy
- Fair Pay
- Fair Costs of Living
- Safety (protection)
- Facilitation of Individual Development (I would put this one on top)
- Democracy (sharing of control)
Best to all,