THE GOAL

Excerpts from "Terra City" - Opening Edition
Published by HUMAN WISDOM - November 2002

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4.     THE GOAL

There is one crucial lesson that history gives us concerning change, which we should keep in mind any time we wish to establish a goal: Nothing ever lasts if it is built on artificial premises. Everything that people try to instate based on elements they mistakenly believe or intentionally impose on others as being true while it is false will not last the test of time. Unfortunately, depending on the circumstances and the power of he who imposed these “truths”, some of them last a relatively long time - but none of them forever. Throughout our history people tried to enslave others considering themselves superior, and they failed; they tried to impose total censorship on people’s mind considering that the authority of Inquisition would be stronger than people’s thoughts, and they failed; they tried to divide a country in two separate countries and a people in two separate peoples considering that an absolute restriction and a big wall can keep brothers apart, and they failed; they tried to conquer countries and create empires of various nations, races and religions, considering that a strong centralized power can annihilate the need for national identity, and they failed; they tried to use a progressive idea and convert it into a doctrine for the communist dictatorship considering that a terrifying secrete police and a barbaric oppression of all those who would dare to raise their voice could annihilate the people’s need for freedom, and they failed; they tried to invent insane ideologies dividing peoples of the world in two categories - an elite nation and the rest of the world considering that an impressive army can enforce such a doctrine and subjugate the others, and they failed. The list of non-sense human trials, all followed by failures, is so long that it could fill up an entire book. No one who is wise enough to learn from past experience and wishes sincerely to build something to last can afford to repeat the mistake of establishing a goal based on any such false assumption.

That is why our goal has to be anchored on real data and namely on the essential data. We also have to continuously question if what we are aiming for has the potential to produce the change that we need and is at the same time reachable. 

[…]

 With all that in mind, let’s now review each piece of essential data that we determined in the previous chapter and see how it can lead us to a worthy and viable goal.

1. - People’s problems are caused by people, and more precisely by “other” people. In other words, our goal will have to deal with people and the society they form. Hence the question: Should our goal focus on trying to change the people or the society first? About 250 years ago, there was a very intelligent and good-hearted man who faced the same dilemma and searched for an answer. He was so much in admiration of his fellow human beings that “in his early writings [he] contended that man is essentially good, a noble savage when in the state of nature (the state of all the other animals, and the condition man was before the creation of civilization and society), and that good people are made unhappy and corrupted by their experiences in society. He viewed society as artificial and corrupt and that the furthering of society results in the continuing unhappiness of man” (Chew 2). Later in his life, he wrote his most important work called The Social Contract that describes his new vision of the relationship between man and society. “Contrary to his earlier work, he claimed that the state of nature is brutish condition without law or morality, and that there are good men only as a result of society’s presence” (Chew 2). Thank you immensely Jean-Jacques Rousseau for your valuable debate on this issue and for your entire contribution to our spiritual and social evolution.

One of our most venerable contemporaries - Nelson Mandela - once said: “One of the most difficult things is not to change society - but to change yourself” (Battersby 9). That is because the society will change only after one individual changes, and then a group of individuals changes, and then a mass of individuals will change, but never before that. The longest journey begins with one tentative step. If each one of us expects better from others, we should also be aware that others expect the same thing. So, until someone will start to effectively improve something, nothing will ever change, for the society is made of us and nobody else. This leads us to the conclusion that people should change first, and then the society will gradually follow, and that should be an integral part of our goal.

Another important question to answer is this: What is the force that could induce the kind of change that we need to turn the present situation around? Is it the church, the government, the business community? Without minimizing the merits of any one of these institutions, we also have to be realistic in our expectations. The church has always had an important role in our history. Part of this role had positive consequences if we contemplate the centuries of development of the educational system when the church was its main promoter or if we consider the many texts, books and artistic valuables that were commissioned, copied and carefully preserved by the church, thus allowing them to be transmitted to future generations. As we all know, there were also some dark periods and embarrassing shortcomings in church history, which were completely incompatible with its sacred mission. The most important role of the church is linked to its initial spiritual purpose, the worship of God and the promoter of the religion, about which Nelson Mandela admirably said: “Religion is one of the most important forces in the world. Whether you are a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew, or a Hindu, religion is a great force, and it can help one have command of one’s own morality, one’s own behavior, and one’s own attitude” (Battersby 11).  That being said, if we look at history, with several notable exceptions, it was not in the church’s nature, interest or aim to incite people to ask themselves questions, to look for answers and the least to strive for changes in the society. Therefore, to hope that the kind of change that the world needs right now is to be generated by the church would be too much of a stretch. Nevertheless, the church can offer an invaluable and substantial support to such a progressive change, which ultimately will benefit everyone including the church itself.

The same goes for the government. It might not apply entirely to the opposition party during the election campaign when they are preaching the need for a change. But once in the office, who the heck needs a change anymore? Once in the position of official power you’ve got to be insane to even think about the risky path of change. On the other hand, we have to admit that besides the understandable criticism, this relatively rigid position of the government has the advantage of assuring a certain stability to each country. And although the government of a country will never start a change of the caliber now needed in our society, its receptive attitude towards such a change would make a big difference in that initiative’s development and success.

If governments would not generate a change, then the exact opposite is the case for businesses. They are in the business of looking for change, and the more spectacular, the better. In this process, they stimulate and promote innovation and discovery, which are important driving forces in the evolution of the society. The main drawback is that the underlying motivation for businesses to change is rooted in their avid aspiration for profits and nothing else, and their wild quest for such profits left behind, throughout the years, countless human, corporate and environmental victims. Taking that into account, I am personally convinced that there will be a multitude of companies, both big and small, that will quickly join the kind of change that we are searching for. But, as Noam Chomsky explained, it is against the nature of business as it is right now, to generate such a change.

That leaves all our hopes for a change hanging on the only force remaining in the game - people themselves. There is nobody else but ourselves who can generate a better life in a better society on Earth because we are the only ones truly affected by the present situation and therefore in need of such a change.

About 500 years ago, a very clever man made a remark that has been confirmed throughout our entire history. He said: “There is no more delicate matter to take in hand, nor more dangerous to conduct, nor more doubtful in its success, than to be a leader in the introduction of changes. For he who innovates will have for enemies all those who are well off under the old order of things, and only lukewarm supporters in those who might be better off under the new” (Cerami 1). As truthful as these words may have been over the centuries, equally true is the fact that if the world would have been made only of individuals who blindly obeyed this precept, we would still be living in caverns. So, we will thank Nicolo Machiavelli for his cautious reflection, and will take our chances, especially since two elements seem to considerably restrain this risk: First, whether we sense it or not, the actual situation is so critical, our entire world being kept together by only a few thin strings, that in fact we do not have much to risk anymore; and second, the change that we are looking for is of that rare kind which would make happy both the ones who “are well off under the old order of things” as well as the ones who are not.

2. - People are not entirely bad, nor entirely good. In average and overall, people are almost half good and half bad. This data raises an interesting question: Should our goal be to try to stimulate the output of our good side or restrain the effect of our bad side, or both at the same time? […] 

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