I’d like to propose a project: on your own or with a group, identify the world’s biggest problems and propose a system of values and rules to better address them.
Humanity and the world
Humans are smart and creative. We’re ingenious when faced with problems: we create physical instruments, techniques of observation, systems of commerce and government. However, rather than solving all our problems, it seems like our inventions are causing the challenges we face to multiply and become more serious.
Our systems of values and rules shape our actions. Our actions shape the world. Though our individual and collective actions do much good, they also create problems. Can we reimagine the systems we live in, so they might work better for more people and the planet we live on?
I believe the two most urgent global problems are environmental degradation and inequality. Powerful, entrenched forces have created and perpetuated each.
In the case of environmental degradation, the combined force of each individual’s drive to grow and improve their individual circumstances trends toward depletion of the earth’s resources. The global market system that externalizes impact on the environment perpetuates this problem.
In the case of inequality, individuals and groups have a tendency to concentrate and hold resources and power, especially when they experience uncertainty or scarcity. This leads to unequal distribution of income, wealth, and representation. In addition, any individual’s perspective on the world is limited by the amount of information they can consume and biased toward what is closest to them. As a result, many people’s voices are not heard and many lack basic resources.
Can we create a system that solves both problems at the same time? Can we create a utopia that respects human nature and physical laws? Because we haven’t succeeded yet, it seems like an audacious question. Because an effective solution would do so much good, many brilliant minds have already taken up the question. Because it’s so challenging, many have given up on the idea.
Let’s start from a few basic principles:
- We can understand the world more accurately by asking questions and making observations. The better we understand it, the better work we can do.
- We can solve many problems through creative, innovative work. The more people contributing to the work, the more likely it is to
- Everyone’s voice deserves to be heard.
I believe we can improve on our current, imperfect systems through creative, innovative, heart-led work. I believe that involving many people in the process will make the results more likely to address the diverse needs and less likely to create new problems.
Why do it?
In doing so, we might each come to a better understanding of the world for ourselves and better understand how others see it. Then, we may articulate our most important values and the behaviors that express them. After comparing with others and making revisions, we might put the best changes forward for broader debate and adoption.
The world is continually being shaped by actions large and small, conscious and unconscious. Whether we realize it or not, everything we do changes the world. By acting intentionally, in ways that better address the world’s biggest problems, we might be able to avoid more of the suffering that we seem to be heading toward.
Every moment of this process is critical. However the large and rapid changes in technology, population, climate and education give unusual weight to the actions we take now. Even if it only seems like now is a special moment because we’re actually living through it, what other moment do we have an opportunity to influence? Whether we choose to engage with these issues or not, we make an impact. It’s up to us to make our impact positive, and I believe acting consciously gives us the best chance.
What my contribution might look like
As a musician and artist, who am I to work on these problems that have traditionally been the realm of political scientists, religious thinkers, or community organizers? Who am I not to?
As an artist, it’s my role to synthesize knowledge and experiences to create something meaningful for people. It’s my role to imagine new ways of being in the world and give new voice to old truths.
I imagine my contribution starting in the form of conversations, being refined in prose writing, then taking form as a set of songs, each of which expresses an essential value or component of the system I propose.
I imagine that my work will be most effective if done in collaboration with others. There are so many compelling ideas about how we can build a better world. Do you have ideas about how to create a better future? I’d love to have a conversation and hear about them.
What is success?
For me, a world at peace is the ultimate work of art: a global society in which everyone is heard and considered, where people of all backgrounds are respected and empowered, where we live in harmony with the natural world. I’m sure we’ll only be able to achieve this with everyone’s heartfelt input and inspiration. I’ll be proud to contribute my voice.