They are distressing and sapping it
Our species is improving but still has an incredible ability to allow, tolerate, and self-inflict disease. We know we can do something about these issues, in theory. Yet we don’t, or can’t. But this story is not about the origins and fixes of these problems*. It is a list and lament for the worst things in the body of Homo sapiens as a whole and how different it could be.
(*For the origins, please read Chapter 26, ‘Imperfections of the Life Instinct’ in my book ‘Philosophy of Life Instinct‘.)
The criterion for being a top-five tumour is how much it hobbles humanity. The five are not unrelated, but they can be shrunk and eliminated independently.
Our Top 5 Malignancies
1. The Chinese Government and Xi Jinping
By itself, the autocratic Chinese government would be a problem. When it has an ultranationalist dictator in total control, it becomes a danger to nearby nations and the rest of humanity. Communism, Maoism, the misuse of the PLA internally, and state-controlled capitalism were unnecessary from a historical perspective and have been a regressive and evil fate for more than a billion members of our species. This cancer is eating China and spreading its tentacles near and far.
Imagine a democratic and socially free China! Just the exit of Xi will probably not make it open and democratic soon, but when it does, its ancient history is an indicator of how much it can contribute to the world in science, culture, and commerce. The flow of cheap goods from China to the world for the last five decades is of negligible value compared to the transformation it’ll bring to the world if its human capital is freed to join in fully. Can we seriously think that Shanghai, Shenzen, Guangzhou, or Beijing would be less developed or attractive if China were free? They would be more successful and beautiful.
The Chinese economy would be larger, going by where relatively free India has reached, although it’s also been hobbled by fifty years of misguided socialism and corruption. Even if a democratic and open China were not an economic superpower, the gain in the sheer joy of life for 1.3 billion humans would far surpass any material shortcomings. Just ask them, in your mind’s eye.
2. Vladimir Putin
There was hope for Russia after Gorbachev and Yeltsin. But we don’t know exactly why the Russian nation went backwards to such an extent. Putin is a throwback to Stalin, with the same ruthlessness and ambition for himself and his conception of a powerful mega-nation. He doesn’t care if the vehicle is communism, Leninism, Stalinism, or Crony Capitalism, as long as he can fulfil his pan-continental vision. This tumour is highly malignant.
Do I even need to make a case for how much safer, more peaceful, and powerful we would all be if Russia was part of the open democratic world order? Unlike for Xi and China, Putin’s exit may quickly make Russia genuinely democratic and open. We could reduce nuclear weapons to the minimum required to contain small unstable nuclear states. And all of the Russian talent in science, engineering, space exploration, IT, and more would flow to every corner of the world.
3. Global Warming
Every educated and literate person is now aware of global warming. Only a fringe minority is in denial. By the time the underdeveloped seventy per cent of the world gets the goods, infrastructure, and energy consumption it desires and deserves, our planetary home will be wrecked. Inevitably the polar ice caps will reduce dramatically, glaciers will almost vanish, sea levels will rise, droughts and floods will become more frequent, bushfires will increase, and weather and storms will become extreme. Global warming is a leukaemia that we’ve recognised at stage three. It has spread through the species’ and planet’s bodies.
We need to imagine good things to gather hope and determination. So let’s think we’ll significantly increase green energy, afforestation, carbon elimination, recycling, circular economies, and reduce our consumption. Let’s imagine we’ll save not only ourselves but all the species of life that still exist on Earth and return the planet to how it was ten thousand years ago, before the explosion of the human population and industrialisation.
We are too numerous for the healthy balance in planetary ecosystems and equality of wealth to make everyone happy. Our overabundance is also killing off thousands of other species every year. Our intelligence is powerful, but we haven’t stopped being a blundering bull in the planetary china shop. As an organism, we’ve spread uncontrolled like cancer through the body of the planet.
Wouldn’t you agree that Thanos got the problem in the movie, even if he should’ve used other means to solve it than randomly dematerialising half of us? But imagine it happened somehow. Given there is no absolute value in any life, and therefore humans, 3.5 billion of us would be more than enough. Sure, we need not die out, so replacement fertility rates are fine, but there would be far less stress on freshwater sources, the atmosphere, the oceans, other life forms, and ourselves. We would still produce enough food, shelter, energy, and goods. And the distribution of education, opportunities, and wealth would be more even. Half our number would live and let live a hundred times better.
We are not just talking about illiteracy. We are talking about the abysmally low high school education level in humanity. Statistically, about 66% of humans are high-school educated. Still, the quality is so poor in many countries it’s more likely to be just 40% if we check their knowledge of maths, science, biology, physics, chemistry, history, and literature. The lack of this vital tool for our evolved brains makes us immensely poor individually and socially. Ignorance is a melanoma in the collective brain of the species.
Imagine at least 90% of humans in all countries were educated to the secondary school level, college, or higher. Quality-consciousness, productivity, lawfulness, progressiveness, and self-sufficiency would become the norm everywhere. There would be a great understanding and acceptance of change, differentness, and working together, as psychological dependence on the old crutches of community, religion, race, and country would drop away. The species’ output, wealth, and peacefulness would go up substantially and flow everywhere.
5 More Diseases
These are not as terrible, but they reduce humanity’s energy and happiness enough that we need to cure ourselves of them.
The pollution created by us has been a problem for a long time. Even if we hadn’t caused global warming, our dirtying of land, water, and the air is a separate major issue that hurts humanity, animals, and plants in myriad ways. But we can remove this canker we’ve grown on the planet.
Unemployment, insufficient work, and being overqualified for the job debilitate human potential and mental health a lot. It’s a festering wound we’ll probably address, but slowly.
3. Internet and Gadget Addiction
We’ve developed a Jekyll and Hyde personality with the internet and mobile devices. They are draining and wasting us as much as they are delivering progress. Most of the over seven billion people on the planet have gadgets and the internet. Both purposefully and inadvertently, their design provides dopamine hits, and we’ve become addicted to obtaining it thousands of times a day. We are sacrificing physical fitness, mental health, and productivity to our addiction to bad news, health and beauty surfing, porn, unceasing work, messaging, celebrity watching, and more. Addiction is so genetic in our species I see little hope of being free of it soon.
4. Racism and Bigotry
These old bugbears are surprisingly recalcitrant. If anything, there has been an increase in intolerance, unless we think it only feels so due to increasing information, which would be a dangerous assumption. Except in a handful of countries, humanity cannot claim to be free of many forms of overt and covert discrimination. As a species, the energy we expend in practising and suffering bigotry is phenomenal. It is another genetically severe issue. We see it but are almost powerless to overcome the defect individually or together.
5. Religious fanaticism
You’d think we’ve left crusades, inquisitions, mass human sacrifices, jihads, pogroms and religious lynchings well behind us. But although religious strife has reduced over the last two centuries, there’s been an unfortunate resurgence of religious fundamentalism and extremism worldwide. It is seen in the US, central, northern and eastern Africa, the Middle East, and central and south Asian countries such as Turkey, India, Myanmar, Indonesia, and others. Much of it is politically motivated, which does not augur well for its quick demise. Hopefully, this sickness will diminish with the spread of education, science, and a more connected and interdependent world.
Of course, there are many other ongoing issues such as sexism, ageism, corruption, nuclear weapons, etc. But these top five affect humanity most in breadth and depth. We would stride ahead and realise so much of our potential if we rid ourselves of the ball and chain they’ve become.
The chemotherapy for the first two cancers is economic, sporting, and cultural sanctions. Radiation therapy is the removal of China and Russia from the UN Security Council and all international bodies. The solutions for global warming, overpopulation, and lack of education are well known but haven’t gathered momentum.
Once we become cancer-free, it will not be instant nirvana. But we’ll be far ahead of where we are. And we deserve that.
Unless you are pro-Putin, pro-Xi, consider global warming a myth, feel having more humans is a good thing, and dropping out of school is fine; I am interested in hearing from you in the comments if you agree with my list or think it should be different.
I wish you a peaceful and happy day.
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