26 January 2007

This I Believe

I believe that progress is possible.

We are better off than the generations that came before us, and we have the ability and the obligation to our descendants to improve upon the world that we have received.

It is within our power to create a world where everyone has access to quality health care, nutritious food, secure shelter and adequate clothing.

It is possible to create a world where getting a job isn’t a crime.

We can minimize war and terrorism without resorting to atrocities ourselves. I don’t know if peace is possible, but I know that we can make the world more peaceful than it is now.

It is possible to achieve a reasonable degree of law and order without putting more African-American men in prison than in college, and without letting petty drug dealers rot in prison for a decade or more.

It is possible to maintain a technologically sophisticated civilized society without rendering out planet uninhabitable or relying on abundant supplies of petroleum.

It is possible to better prepare our youths for adulthood.

I believe that progress can be achieved by committed, thoughtful people.

They do not need to be geniuses, although our society has many geniuses.

They do not need to be charismatic figures, although our society has many superstars.

They do not need to be fabulously wealthy, although our society is awash with the superrich.

They do not need God’s favor, although many in our society seek it.

I believe that the public is capable of supporting progress.

Most people can agree on most outcomes that show we have a better society.

Most people fear change that they do not understand. Few people really understand why our society works, fewer still understand what is necessary to make our society better. A majority of people will never understand these things. Real understanding can only be achieved through diligent, honest inquiry. Not all people are thoughtful or committed. Most are not. No one lives long enough to understand everything.

The essence of what makes a change in society good can be explained, not rigorously, but heuristically and by example. People who experience a way of organizing our society that works will support it. People who experience something know whether or not it is working.

The path from the present to a better world is not always straightforward. But, if thoughtful, committed people are consistent in guiding the public towards it, the public can change its views of what is right and wrong about our society, and can back positive change.

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