Collectively and individually, we've been given these challenges in life:
· To develop and express ourselves.
· To refrain from hurting others.
· To help others develop and express themselves.
· To be that which reflects our true best nature.
At once, we have to be good learners and teachers, but we have to do both while sooner or later overcoming selfishness. We not only have to do unto others what we would have done to ourselves, but we must continually strive to understand greater wholes so that we don't make the golden rule aberrant.
Unfortunately, we still are all too often, collectively and individually, reinforcing aberrance through the bestial rule: It's every man and woman for himself and herself.
This rule allows us to promote a statistical view of people. So, many must be materially impoverished to allow others to have millions or billions.
So, many deaths from manmade poisons are reasonable, if the numbers are within limits, to promote the advancement of insect-free farming or corporate profit.
Consider some recent news. The Environmental Protection Agency, for the first time in its history, has outlawed three pesticides because of the harm they might do to children. At the same time, our "protection" agency approved the use of 47 new chemicals that "might do less harm."
This statistical view of people first allows us to isolate our being, individually and collectively, from our best possible nature.
For example, the argument recently was promoted that wiping out hepatitis B worldwide might be a bad thing. We should rather look at the cold hard reality that poor, overpopulated countries, in large part African and Asian, will be just that much worse off if this disease isn't wiping out appropriate numbers, thus controlling something — population growth — that we obviously can't control ourselves. Yet, this reasoning leads to the insidious notion that we should consciously allow a disease that we might otherwise eradicate to, well, eradicate the less fortunate and less powerful.
We are thus put off from considering that, at a better potential, we might all limit the depletion of our resources, work together toward common population controls and make the world more disease-free at the same time.
From the first stage of isolation, in the second stage — of cynicism — we begin to see the world as a harsh and sometimes cruel reality where the "fittest" must survive not only at the expense of others, but by promoting the system now seen as "real life."
So, a sense of isolation from our better nature leads to a view that the world is a more and more evil type of place. Instead of a common good in different religions, the better religion is set against the worse. Patriotism, instead of simply a love of country within a love for the planet, becomes an excuse for ignorance and lack of international cooperation. Personal greed gains more influence but is disguised under euphemisms such as "free market." Congress promotes a tax cut to "benefit the people" in a Russian roulette game with the future economy and our grandchildren's savings.
The third stage — or ruinous action — is the deliberate or perhaps moreso the negligent negative manipulation of the human soul. Values become names in the intellect only while the behavior, logic and emotion of those in charge is self-serving and even malevolent.
The fact is that, given the best use of our current abilities, even one death due to preventable environmental toxicity is too much. One starving child in the most affluent society on Earth is too much. The enhancement via incentives or freebies to corporate or individual profit before balancing the nation's, even the world's, bankbook, is too much. Values spoken about but not demonstrated to our children are worse than ineffective: We are raising children who kill by the nature of the cold world we are raising them in. The fault is not theirs — it's ours.
Any negligence on the part of our city — dirty air, poisoned water, urban sprawl, crowded schools, homelessness and ineffective protection in general — in the face of even more lotto millionaires, increased local quarterly profits and portfolios and higher administrative salaries is too much.
Any way out of all of this assumes that we can learn to take care of the common good before we pat ourselves on our backs for individual, social or corporate prosperity. This thinking assumes that we place our abilities in a position of improving our fundamental condition, with true values, before placing value on material growth.
Someday maybe we can be at our best, or at least better than we now are.