Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Vision of a Better World

When I wrote yesterday's post, I kept finding myself tempted to go on and on about what I don't like about our culture today. This morning, I indulged in just going ahead and writing my list of what I'm most unhappy about in current U.S. culture. To my amazement, the list kept growing and growing.

You will be happy to learn that I'm not posting it! It's pretty depressing.

So, instead, I will derive out of that list, in an inverse sort of way, some elements of my vision for a better world.

  • People would generally be more respectful of each other.
  • Environmental sustainability and social & economic justice would be the highest priorities of our government.
  • Our nation would try to work cooperatively with other nations to resolve differences.
  • We would restore an ethic of placing the greater social good over and above the false god of "economic growth." We would realize that economics is a means, not an end.
  • Every full-time job would offer a living wage.
  • Those from other countries who are hired to do work in this country would be regarded as legal immigrants, because clearly they are offering something of value to our country.
  • Everyone would have access to basic health care at affordable prices. And going to the doctor would be a healing, reassuring experience.
  • Education would be relevant and meaningful, and higher education would be affordable.
  • The mass media would cater to the greater social good instead of to consumerism. There would be more educational programming and there would be more positive, inspiring movies and stories. Sensationalizing violence and disrespect would be regarded as offensive and in poor taste.
  • Technological development would stabilize so that people could buy items that are easy to learn how to use and will last a long time. There would no longer be the need to "upgrade" (= spend lots of money, spend time learning lots of new skills and reworking how you do things and how you keep your work organized) every two years.
  • When a resource is found to be limited, those in economic and political power would refuse to yield to the temptation of capitalizing off the scarcity of the resource, and instead would join forces in planning for a sustainable future. They would do this by discouraging dependency on the limited resource -- encouraging moderation and developing alternatives.
  • We would have a viable system of public transportation for medium distances, so that people wouldn't be limited to only the two current viable options of long car journeys or short, inefficient plane flights. (Kunstler said in his talk [see yesterday's posting] that the easiest thing we could do that would have the most dramatic helpful effect in alleviating the oil crisis would be to restore passenger train travel in the U.S. I agree. I love trains, and would take them all the time for medium-length journeys if they were available.)
  • We would also have good systems of local public transportation even in rural areas.
  • Urban, suburban, and rural neighborhoods would return to pedestrian-friendly and bicycle-friendly environments. Everybody would have the option to be able to walk to get their daily needs met.
  • Beautiful historic buildings would be restored and well-taken-care-of. New construction would be energy-efficient, sturdy, and aesthetically pleasing.
  • Neighborhoods and downtowns would be aesthetically pleasing, interesting, and distinctive. Different places really would look different from each other again.


  1. On my morning walk I was listening to a tape by a speaker talking about frustration: that it's usually something God is frustrated about placed on our hearts in an attempt to get us to come to him in intercession. What we do with that can be negative ("worship at our church is so dull and lifeless!") or positive ("our church is being called to a deeper level of worship - we need to set aside old practices in preparation for what God is calling us to"). I sense the later in your post: keep interceding!

  2. Wow, thanks, aj! I really appreciate your sharing this insight about frustration!

    I've been so frustrated about so many things lately, and I'm not used to feeling this immersed in negativity! As I've written about in other postings, I try to practice a spiritual discipline of transforming negativity into positive vision and positive energy, but lately have been feeling more and more exhausted. While I have been asking God for help and strength, it never occured to me that God may be challenging me to approach this frustration differently and to reach for a new level in my relationship with God (more than just asking God for help -- I am inspired now to meditate more on the meaning of "intercession").

    So your sharing this interpretation of frustration is very powerful for me! Thank you!

  3. I've been meaning to thank you for this post for a while now, but I dont' feel like I have anything helpful to ad. I've been thinking on making my own list of imaginings of my 'ideal' - but it would be quite similar to yours, so perhaps I should just direct people here.

    It is something I'd like to learn how to do more and more in my life - never look at a situation and think "this is what's wrong with it" but 'this is what I'd like to start working on!' (or even, a real strecth for me, "this is what's right with it!")

    I also appreciate your point about the coming oil crisis. The good news is "things will have to change" the bad (?) news is that part of that process may be pretty painful and trying.

    But I, for one, am naively excited!


  4. Thank you, Pam, for sharing your thoughts. Yes, it takes discipline and intentionality to move beyond the negative into the positive. And finding the positive in what we initially regard as negative is especially difficult, but very powerful.

    You are right too that the process of transition in the coming oil crisis (etc.) might be painful and trying. This is why I think it is urgent for at least some people to be looking ahead. The more that there are people looking ahead and planning for a more sustainable world, the more likely it is that the transition can be eased a bit.

    I hope so, anyway!