Creating Our Own Future
by Jackie Holm 12.11.18
Prompt #2: The organizing principles by which we live, must let me imagine:
Most people at some point in their life wants to, or believes, that they will change the world. Many do change the world with their inventions or visions of how the future should be. Even I have often thought about changing the world in some way and leaving my mark on the planet after I have passed. So many people want to see a better future yet refuse to acknowledge any problems we may have as a society, or do not try to make a change. If we take a look at what is wrong with our society, we can see what changes should be made, how we can make them and what the world may look like with these changes.
One of the very first steps towards changing the future for the better, is acknowledging that there is something wrong with the present. For me, several big issues include a general lack of respect for things, peoples’ selfishness and a near constant dependence of technology. Disrespect between people and cultures and people and nature are actions that plague the path to a better future. People do not care to listen or understand where others’ viewpoints come from. “You’re in America, speak English!” is a phrase I have heard personally far too many times. As a person whose first, and only, language is English, I understand how frustrating it can be to not understand what someone is saying. But that may be exactly how the non-native English speaker may feel. Those who are uttering derogatory phrases such as this one are not realizing how frustrating and hard it may be for the non-native English speaker to try and communicate to others who do not speak their language as well. Many do not even care to try to understand how the non-native English speaker may feel. All they care about is how they feel in that situation. Then there is disrespect towards nature. The threat of global warming is constantly on the news and in the minds of people who want to continue to live on earth. There are swirling trash heaps in the ocean that are harming the sea life that humans are already overfishing. Straws are becoming lodged in turtles’ noses and cigarette butts are being swallowed by fish yet much of the human population does not care. But damaging sea life is not all we fail to acknowledge. Air pollution is choking parts of the world like China and India, yet here in the United States, many people forget that anything is wrong with other nations. We are privileged here in the U.S., almost living in a bubble of ignorance. We as humans take for granted the world we are living in to feed our selfish hunger. We are the virus that is taking down its host, the Earth, and this brings us to how many peoples’ selfishness will lead to our demise if we do not change.
Being selfish is pretty much engrained in our DNA. Many species need to be selfish with their resources in order to continue to survive. But we as humans have more than enough resources to help others, yet we choose not to. In the U.S. we have an abundance of grocery stores with food stacked high, but we also have many homeless people struggling to find their next meal. Why is this okay? Why are large stores throwing out food that is not purchased and getting mad at other human beings when they are trying to get a meal out of the garbage? How can we have so much food to give yet so many that go hungry? To me I find it ridiculous that the people care more about a profit than for another person’s life. Many rich people just want to get richer and this is sad because there are so many people struggling in the United States but are suffering alone. Yes, there are soup kitchens and food donations, but there is food being thrown out and wasted rather than donated to people who need it. I also hinted towards peoples’ selfishness when it comes to money. I understand how it is important, but that is why you can do so much good with it as well! Why is a human life worth less than money? People struggle to make payments for a place to live or pay for medical treatments, but if they cannot afford to pay for basic needs or medical services this could lead to serious problems. And for some reason, many people are okay with this. A cure for cancer or other serious diseases could already be found, but long-term treatment is what makes money. Not a one-time solution.
Lastly, our dependence on technology is insane. Technology does a lot of good for the world on a large-scale basis, but when it is constantly in the palm of our hands then it can become an issue. With the rise of smart phones comes the demise of humans’ smarts. Children are given phones and tablets to distract them from bothering their parents. That speaks volumes. At restaurants kids are on theirs or their parent’s phone, not engaging in conversations but enthralled by flashing lights and bright colors. This stems into older generations as well. Walking across campus you can see people running into things or each other because they are distracted by their phones. There are laws preventing the use of phones while driving for this very reason! No one really needs to know how to do anything because they can just look it up within seconds. People do not talk anymore – they text. I cannot remember the last time I received a hand-written letter by the sender’s choice, instead I get a message that says “Happy _____, I hope you are doing well.” People communicate but meanings are lost in translation.
There are many, many things wrong with the world we live in and changes should be made to help create a better future. Disrespect towards other cultures and people and towards nature are inexcusable. If we want the world to turn towards an oasis, then we cannot be the ones poisoning it from within. “Respect is earned, not given,” can still be an idea that people can follow, but there needs to be a basic level of respect given to others solely because they are another human. No one is worthless, anyone has the ability to help create a better future if given the chance. Peoples’ selfishness needs to change as well. No one should be losing their life because of hunger or inability to make enough money to support themselves. We as a nation have more than enough to support our fellow community members as well as helping other nations if they want it. Even a in the recent past, members of staff on the UC Berkeley campus were on strike so they could receive substantial pay and benefits for their work on campus. This is particularly upsetting due to the fact that many students are paying thousands of dollars a year to receive an education from Cal, but Cal is not paying their workers what they need. Finally, the near constant use of technology needs to change. I understand how tempting it is to use my cell phone. I often use it to avoid talking to people while walking, but that is exactly part of the problem. People become so focused on their phone screen that they forget to live in the present. Many people want to text or go on social media to see what is happening to other people, but people posting are doing it for “likes” and validation. Again, we see parents giving the children devices to their children super young to avoid having to deal with any behavioral issues in public or in private. Many people from my generation find it difficult to do simple tasks and often ask for someone else to do it, or they give up. Many times at gatherings I see people around my age or younger with a phone glued to their hand, ignoring the presence of their loved ones or friends. More and more people seem to be more socially awkward as well because they do not know how to interact with others in person. People like the comfort of hiding behind a screen and this can lead to a rift in generations that do not use technology as much. Although these may seem like inconsequential issues, solving “minor” problems can have a major impact.
Making changes to the world may seem very difficult, but in reality, it does not have to be. As I said earlier, many people may believe that respect is earned not given. I am one of those people that believes that. But, I also believe people should at least receive some respect for the lives they have lived. No two people can share the same exact experience. Two people could be working extremely hard, but one could be working at a job to make money and the other could be working hard to take care of their family every day. What people do not understand is the difficulty either job can be, and people tend to believe they are in the right. To fix this we could use the “walk a mile in my shoes” analogy. If people were to actually sit down and try to understand the struggles others faced, it could lead to an understanding between people. I recognize that this idea may have a very “hippie” mentality, so if people do not want to think about how others have important duties as well, they could try speaking to others in person. People communicating their issues to each other helps significantly when trying to solve a problem. There is no guessing involved, just people trying to get their points across and show others a glimpse into what they are going through. And if this still does not help people to respect each other, then have people change roles and have them experience what the other goes through first hand. Have a wealthy member of society sit in the streets, ask for money or scavenge for food. Have them try to find a job when they have been unemployed for a while or if they are not bathed due to living in the streets. And if they refuse, say “that’s crazy,” or “that’s ridiculous,” we ask them why they would not want to put themselves in that position. Why would they not want to live on the streets? Why is their life any more important than another’s? This mentality has helped me a lot when it comes to getting angry at speeding drivers, or when trying to understand another person’s perspective. They may be having a bad day, their kid could be sick, their family may be in trouble, but all of this reminds me that we are all human and that their emotions and life is valid.
Another thing that needs to change is peoples’ selfishness. Like respect, many issues revolving selfishness could be resolved by understanding other’s points of view. We need to have more respect for other peoples’ lives and a way that this could move in the right direction is paying workers a living wage. That is what minimum wage is meant to be but because of peoples’ selfishness, many workers are still unable to make enough money to have a stable living situation. Another way that we can become less selfish as a society is setting up opportunities for the homeless to get off the streets. We can set up job opportunities and even communal housing for those who need it. Jobs can give people an income, experience and could potentially help the larger community. There should be no reason for so many people to be living on the streets and if we are able to work past our selfishness as a whole to help those in need, this can help lead us to a better future. That being said, people cannot be selfish with what job they want to work as well. Yes, they should have a say in what kind of work they are doing, but they there needs to be reason and compromise as well. In addition to setting up ways to help those in need, we can look to our elders for ways to be less selfish as well. Like the Community does at the end of Yvette Nolan’s The Unplugging, we can look to our elders for guidance on how we can proceed to the future. Growing up I was always taught to respect my elders and they taught me valuable life lessons. They taught me to be generous and kind to others, to try to understand what others may be going through as well. If we were to speak to our elders more about how we should treat others and behave, this could help guide our future as well. Now we also need to address the use of technology. Because kids are growing up with cell phone in their hands, we are seeing a major change in their behavior as they grow up. Resolving this issue can be as simple as limiting their time on devices. Kid do not need technology to have fun. I remember growing up and riding my bike or going hiking with the family. I would have Nerf wars with my brothers or build forts with blankets. It was not difficult to create worlds with my imagination and keep myself occupied without the use of cell phones or tablets. Even when my brothers received cell phones when they were well into their teens, they were flip phones that could only make phone calls. They were not able to text or even take pictures. They were also never allowed to be out during meal time or when it got too late. The late rule was never really enforced because my brothers were not on them constantly. Then when I got a phone, I receive the same rules but I was like my brothers and not always on my phone. This taught me self-control when I received more technologically advanced devices. These rules were also not hard to set up or enforce. My parents respected us as people and we respected their rules. Another way that tech time could be limited is having kids play outside. Whether its out in a backyard, riding their bike and getting exercise, or just relaxing outside, being outside can be beneficial time spent away from technology. Lastly, one way to beat a smart phone addition is to stop it at the source. Kids do not need extremely expensive phones that have games, videos and social media access on them. If parents really think that they need a phone to be able to keep in contact with them, then they can have simpler phone like others before them. Like both of my brothers, I had a flip phone that could only make phone calls. I could not send or receive text messages, take photos and “apps” were not a thing. When I first got the cell phone, I did not even take it with me to most places until my parents got mad when they tired to call me. In the long run, this helped me a lot when it came to wanting to be on my phone. Even though I now have a smart phone, the habits I created when I was younger have stuck with me. I know how to limit my time on my phone and am not freaking out when I do not have my phone on me constantly. In addition to kids not having so much time on their phones, their parent(s) or guardians need to be held accountable as well. Parents should not just blindly give their phones to their children to distract them. They should be taught discipline and respect from their parents. In order to create a brighter future, kids need to be taught to how to act in a respectful way without the dependence of constant technology.
Imagine having a world where all of these changes are applied to our society. People actually have respect from others and nature. There is no question of a person’s worth because of someone else’s small-mindedness. Understandings between communities could finally be reached. This could allow for stronger communities with more diversity. There would be less racism, less bigotry and more compassion for other people of different cultures. A respect for other people holds the potential to form better relationships with additional countries as well. With respect towards all forms of life, there could be less struggles between nations if we acknowledge the importance of human life. We would be able to reach better compromises that have the intent to help the many instead of the few. With the respect for nature, the world itself can last longer and more animals and natural habitats can be saved. There would be much less species on the endangered list due to respect for their lives as well. Natural habitats would be able to flourish and the species living there would not need to worry about losing their homes due to peoples’ self-interest. Respecting nature could lead to more trees being planted and which would lead to cleaner air for us to breath. Less trash in the streets could lead to less being swept into the ocean. People would be able to scuba dive in great bodies of water and not be surrounded by dense trash pollutants. Instead they would be able to see beautiful coral structures with bright, vibrant fish inhabiting them. They would have no need to pull straws from turtles’ noses, instead they would be able to enjoy the sea creature’s presence. There would also be less pollutants that harm the sea life we eat, which means there would be less pollutants harming our bodies as well.
In addition to respecting others more, with less selfishness in the world, better relationships can be formed as well. Not on a large scale, but on a smaller more personal level. Older generations could act as mentors to younger ones who may be struggling. People would be less selfish with their time and be more willing to help others. With less selfishness, there would be less people on the streets left shivering and hungry. They are able to afford all of the necessities they need to survive. No more questioning when they will be able to eat next, or where their meal may come from. Shelters and communal housing would allow those who need it to have a suitable place to live. This could also help homeless people who are mentally challenged find assistance as well. They would have a proper place to call home instead of tent cities they may occupy. They would be able to get treatment that they may need. There is potential for more jobs that can help the community instead of just one person as well. Jobs like picking up garbage or helping the National Parks could contribute to a cleaner world which goes back to respecting nature. Everything is connected. Better relationships between workers and employers could form as well. People would work hard for the money they earn out of the respect they have for the company. Employers would pay their workers what they deserve instead of keeping a majority of it for “higher ups.” Workers would not be paid less than the minimum amount of what they need to survive. They would have healthcare they need to support their families. They would be able to have sick days to take when they become ill, and vacation days to spend time with their loved ones. Money would be a factor in their lives, but not a weightbearing struggle that dictates exactly what they do or makes their lives extremely difficult to live. There is less of a struggle over money that rules our current society. People would put other peoples’ lives above their own financial gain.
Finally, with less use of technology, there can be more children playing the streets and making more connections with others. Kids would have healthier lives instead of hiding away playing on their cell phones. They would run or play games which would instill healthy living habits that could impact their future. This could also lead to closer bonds being formed among friends that could last a lifetime. Less people would feel lonely and isolated. There would be less of an addiction to phones. People would not have to worry so much about distracted drivers, people would be able to enjoy the ride and their views more. Adolescents would feel less of a need to post everything to social media for the validation because they would be able to enjoy the moments in the present more. Kids could also have better relationships with their parents and grandparents and society would respect their elders more. There would not be cell phones out while having meals together, so there would be more potential for quality time. With more quality time, children would be able to get to know their grandparents and listen to their life stories. Older generations’ lives and memories could be persevered in the future generations. Knowledge that might have been lost could be recorded and past down. People could also have more intelligence and better memory, or they could have things actually written down to remember. They could have a better understanding of how the world works around them on a larger scale. People often talk about “book smarts,” and “street smarts,” but by talking with others, there is potential for both. People could still have information at the palms of their hands but they would not be constantly using social media or messaging other people to communicate.
This future is entirely possible and the steps we need to take in order to get to this future are not difficult to achieve. Many people have the idea to change the world, some do with their ideas or inventions. If we acknowledge what is wrong with our culture, we are able see what changes should be made, how we can make them and what the world may look like with these changes. Though change on a large scale may be difficult to achieve and one change may not mean anything to the world, it could mean the world to one person.
Nolan, Yvette. The Unplugging. Playwrights Canada Press, 2014. 1-80. Print.