My main concern for the current state of the world is our hypercompetitive; self focused nature, that Bill McKibben calls “hyper-individualism.” I’ve thought for a long time that this was a direct result of a capitalist society in which you directly profit off the loss of others. The more others lose, the more you gain. This system also naturally results in the most cutthroat people rising to the top of political and economic power. My view of a positive future is one that is community based and less focused on technology. I believe that life is about creating memories that you can explore on a park bench when you retire, but the memories that we are creating are ones of wasting away sitting in front of a screen without real interaction, and feeling like we never have enough. My positive future is based on what I believe will make people happy and comfortable in their lives: strong communities that maintain a high standard of living.
I believe the first step towards reaching a community based positive future is a movement towards local economies and governments. As companies become consolidated and larger they lose interest in communities, and while the federal government may be good for regulating economy and foreign affairs, it has no business existing as an authoritarian power. States that choose not to enforce federal law are exactly the kind of movement I support, but with larger states like Texas or California, a state government is equally as useless as a federal one. Its especially important to remember that while it may seem like regression, the moving back to smaller communities is really progression towards a positive future that resembles a long distant past with a higher standard of living.
What I’m worried about with my idea of a positive future, is that third world countries will suffer. Clearly they would have been better off if Europeans hadn’t attempted to globalize, but that past remains. While we strengthen communities, it may be easy to forget to exist as a citizen of the world, and that is a genuine issue. It may possibly be avoided by an exodus of American population surplus to third world countries, bringing with them a high standard of living, but the obvious issue with that is that we very clearly don’t want every country to be America. The only solution I see is to trust the federal government to include foreign aid in the form of strengthening infrastructure and not just donations to their list of duties.
As a high school student, I feel that the most I can do to strengthen communities is just being nice to people. People forget to look out for each other, and by trying to make caring the new norm, we will strengthen communities. As a more life long goal, my current plan is to study economics in college in hopes of figuring out a way to break that system down. The result might will probably be moving around and starting local businesses that hopefully will blossom into local communities, especially in areas like Williston that are overrun with big box companies. This seems like not only a good path to take to promote a positive future, but one that’s intellectually interesting and socially engaging.
The system is forged in iron, and the best we can do is to pry open the small cracks. If everything was as easy as I made it seem in my path to being a solutionary then someone would have already done it by now. Movements rise and movements fall, and my main hope lies in natural evolution. My philosophy is that everything will work out in the end, but I’m not sure whether or not that’s based on a logical belief or my attempt to cope with a feeling of impossibility to alter things. My plan to move communities to local economies still stands, but I’m not confident that I can outmaneuver economic giants. Looking at our past everything always seems to move from low standard of living to high standard of living, so in general I’m hopeful, but at the same time everything is so massive and steadfast that I can’t help feeling overwhelmed in trying to plan how to better it. The one thing that we can be sure of is change, and at this point, change could go in either direction.