A pale blue dot. In the grand scheme of the universe, may not seem very important, may not even hold any significance what so ever. Yet, that pale blue dot is home, and to us, it is important.
We must not let that importance go to waste. We must explore, innovate, adapt and grow. We must signal out into the universe, regardless of who is listening, that “We are here. We are important”. However, in order to back up that claim, we must first understand our world and ourselves. Because if we do not, we will never be able to incite some form of lasting positive change to tackle the big issues that affect us all.
In essence, that is what this is all about, to understand as much as I can about the events that shape our little pale blue dot, so that maybe, one day, that understanding, might just change something, and change something for the better.
We live in (arguably) the most exciting time in human history. A time where the future looks brighter then it ever has before. I bet right now there is a good proportion of you reading this with the immediate reaction of the complete opposite, so very pessimistically concerned with the state of current world affairs; wishing you could have lived in the ‘golden age’ of the 20′s or 1800′s or something to that effect (If you havn’t seen Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight in Paris‘, I highly recommend it!).
To all you nay-sayers out there who say that is not the case, who have been nay-saying since history began, for you, the present outlook on the future, has been and always will be the worst it ever has been. You fail to understand that the world is not just black and white. It is not simply good verses evil, where one is pitted against the other, where democracy, freedom and Fox News are fighting to rid the world of tyranny and socialist injustice. It is much more than that.
The world is not even many shades of grey, as others would argue, but it is full of colour. Colour with seemingly endless amounts of variation, interacting with one another, producing new things and adapting to its environment, ever evolving. However, every now and again, in a system as complex as our little pale blue dot, things do not always interact as best they could and every so often, produce negative results. In the vast majority of instances, this complex world we live in, produces amazing things, and it’s only going to get better.
However, of course there are utterly incomprehensible levels of horrible things that happen in the world on a very regular basis, but the frequency and level of diffusion of those horrible things are in rapid decline. Albeit, there is still the possibility that those with global influence can make horrible decisions, namely due to a complete lack of understanding *ahem* G.W. Bush *ahem*, but I think history shows, good decisions happen more then bad ones.
In essence, we are all working towards our own self-interest, and it just so happens that our own self interest, is almost always in the benefit of others as well. The most basic example of that is a job. We work to make money as a means to develop, support and sustain our lives. That is within our self-interest, and yet by providing those products and services through working, we are also benefiting others, a positive feedback effect. An occurrence that happens much more regularly then the negative.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, life expectancy is dramatically increasing, global GDP per captia is growing at incredible rates, despite the fact that since 1989, over two billion people have been added to the world. Furthermore, and most striking, in 1989, over 43 percent of the developing world was living in poverty (1.25 dollars per day or under). In 2010, that number was 21 percent. Yes, you read that right, poverty in the developing world has decreased by half since 1989. And in the last 20 years, over 440 million people in China alone have lifted themselves out of poverty, the biggest reduction of poverty in history.
Even more to the point, the global adult literacy rates in 1989 was just below 76 percent and by 2010, had reached 84.1 percent. Of course these numbers can never be exactly accurate as it is incredibly difficult to gather this sort of data on a global scale and certainly in the developing world. However, it does go to show, that in many regards, the world is not getting worse, it is getting better.
Hundreds of millions of people are getting out of poverty and learning to read and write, that in itself is incredible. Just think about this for a moment: that is hundreds of millions of people, like you and me, with needs, desires, passions, skills and abilities. Hundreds of millions of people who now have the opportunity to innovate, adapt and grow. Hundreds of millions of people, behaving within their own self-interest, to the benefit of others. The possibilities for our future, are incredible, especially in comparison to our past. However, that does not mean we should just consider the world sorted and stop trying to better it and ourselves. There are still billions on this planet living outside of this nice comfy middle-class bubble myself and many others seem to have found ourselves in. Should those people, like myself, find themselves in this fortunate position above the poverty line, coupled with a passion for understanding the world and its international relations, I believe it is therefore our responsibility to try our damned hardest to create lasting and positive changes. Even if they have the tiniest impact on some of the big issues that affect us all.
While that sounds all well-to-do and holier than thou, as I bop around the world in my middle-class bubble trying to change and understand the world, it isn’t. Because, and I will say this now, I am attempting to have some form of an impact on this pale blue dot because it is in my own self-interest. Simple. Not because I want to help poor starving ‘global south’ children or assist refugees fleeing from Syria or other war torn parts of the world, but simply because having an effect on my surroundings, that has the potential to benefit the world, makes me feel good. I seek to understand because it makes me feel more comfortable about what is happening around me. It allows me to know why an event or issue has happened and enables me to make some form of an educated guess about the future and how to affect its outcome. I believe that it is that quality of self-interest that drives the world, right down to our personal relationships, and right up to the relationships between states. Self-interest allows our world’s systems to self-organise, be designed without a designer and to ultimately succeed rather than fail. So my word of advise for the day: Anybody trying to change the world, to save the elephants, to save the children, because it is ‘the right thing to do’, is talking a big ol’ load of bullshit. If they truly believe that is their reason, they will probably just make the matter worse in the long run. Oh and also, watch this video, it will blow your mind while making you laugh at the same time:
Want to help somebody? Shut up and listen!
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
While there are comments below, for those who want to incite some healthy and lengthy debate, however you will never know if I’m actually reading it or not… why not talk to me on Twitter? I’ll definitely read your comment, and I’ll probably reply, too!