With 2018 just around the corner, I’d like to propose ten things that would help create a happier, healthier and more peaceful new year for all of us...
1. A culture that doesn’t breed the mass self-loathing upon which consumerism rabidly depends, that doesn’t view us as consumers, or clients, or economic commodities. There is no objective ‘normal’ or ‘beautiful’ or ‘successful’. These are just social constructs designed to disempower us and make us feel not good enough as we are, so that we’ll keep buying crap we don’t need. We are human beings. We did not wait 4.5 billion years for these atoms of stardust to give us life in order to spend our short time on Earth increasing GDP.
2. A world that doesn’t view disability as burdensome or tragic, but celebrates human diversity for the wondrous thing it is, and promotes the perspective that we are all unique life-forms. Nobody is abnormal. Our bodies – whatever their shape or however they work – give us this gift of life. We should love them for enabling us to exist.
3. An education system that develops not just intellects but morality. Some of the worst crimes in history have been committed by really brainy people. We need to teach empathy and compassion. Much of the suffering in the world arises because we dehumanise people; promoting empathy is the best guard against that. It’s important to give people the tools to think critically, instead of teaching obedience to authority and fear of difference. We need to nurture our imaginations.
4. An economic system that doesn’t view the natural world as something to be exploited, but the most precious resource we share. Our economic system exists in the physical world. It needs to be based on a profound respect for the planet that gives us life. We need to acknowledge the finite limits of our environment and protect it for future generations.
5. A world where a home and enough food to eat are viewed as basic human rights. Where nobody is left to sleep on the street. Where ‘civilised’ means that nobody – regardless of race, gender, sexuality, ability, economic status – is left behind. Where our governments don’t demonise the poor or the sick or the disabled, but are proud to fund welfare, healthcare and education for all, because they are investments in our collective future.
6. A world where leaders who stand for peace and equality aren’t derided. Where a person’s ability to lead isn’t judged by how loudly they shout, or how they bow to royalty, or how skilled they are at evading questions – but by their kindness, wisdom and strength. Where politics isn’t a game dominated by slogans, empty promises and clever speech-writers. Where we move past the language of ‘left’ and ‘right’, and focus on right and wrong. Politics is how we treat other.
7. A world in which our media isn’t owned by a handful of tax-dodging billionaires, who spread hate and lies to divide and rule us. Where our journalists are free to be the lifeblood of a democracy, to challenge power, expose falsehoods and be the voices of those who have none.
8. A society that rewards those who do the jobs we really depend on – nurses, doctors, firemen, cleaners, carers, teachers, police – fairly and properly. That sees those professions as invaluable to a healthy and flourishing society. That doesn’t allow public services to be run for a profit.
9. A radical shift in societal values. What defines us most is how much love we receive, how we view ourselves, and what opportunities are available to us. Let’s move away from this superficial, unhealthy, and destructive value-system based on consumption and competition, and build a society around what humans really need. Our collective goal should be to increase well-being, equality and democracy.
10. A world free of human-made concepts such as borders, countries, races. Earth is just land and sea. We are one species on one planet, all connected to each other, all dependent on each other. Nature is not separate from us. We are nature. If we are ever to create a fruitful, peaceful, sustainable future, we need to drop our mindless labels, our hates and our prejudices. We have to reject the fear-mongering of our leaders and the scapegoating of our fellow humans, and join together. Every one of us lights up this tiny corner of the universe with our spark of life. Soon, each of us will melt back into the stars. That truth should bond us all.