Saving the World
We're too late to save the world.  Whether you look at limits to growth, climate change, pollution, species extinction, geopolitical conflict, population growth, disease virulence, or interpersonal relationships, we are entering an extended period of collapse.

This is a given.  There's essentially nothing you or I or anyone else can do about it.  Given this situation, how then should we live?

I suggest we analyze where we went wrong in order to determine how we should live going forward.  Assume the collapse has happened, and start living that way now.

1.1 What Went Wrong?

Some say capitalism but forget what capitalism replaced: feudalism.  Others say Christianity is to blame, forgetting the vast destruction wrought today and in history around the world by adherents of other faiths.  Some say our destruction is upon us because we have abandoned the principles and law of the LORD Almighty.  Some say the problem is Empire -- the concept and practice of conquest and power.

Regardless of what you believe, I think it is quite plain that our problems would be solved if we as a species would think beyond our selfish desires.  If we would think about the plights of others, put ourselves in their shoes, and perhaps even work to help them.

There's a word for this.


Science tells us something very interesting about empathy.  When you give someone power, their ability to empathize is turned off.  You can see it on an fMRI.  This applies to power dynamics in politics, romance, business, or any other human interaction.  By giving someone power, you remove their ability to empathize with other people, their family, other people's families, children, animals, our environment: all gone.

This is what went wrong.  By giving someone power, we remove the one ability that is absolutely fundamental to creating a loving, caring, supportive culture.

1.2 Where to Start?

The best place to affect change is somewhere that everyone has forgotten.  An even better place to affect change is somewhere that everyone believes is impossible to approach.

Perhaps it is impossible.  Yet, if nobody actually tries to approach it, how do you know?  Because everyone says it must be?  That's not how science works.  Think different.  Walk into the impossible.

What is impossible today?  Coming of age in the US after the 2008 financial crash.  No jobs.  No money.  No credit.  If you have a home, you are living illegally with 8 other people in the basement of a house built for 4.  Maybe you live with your parents, who are growing older quickly and do not have the resources to obtain care as they age.  The cost of their care will take everything they have including the home you might have otherwise lived in, and you don't have enough resources to take care of yourself let alone your parents.

But you still have children.  That's what we do, no matter our circumstances.  We are now seven years past the crash, and one can easily see the result: an exploding upward trend of Federal student lunch aid.  We have born an entire generation into poverty, a generation whose grandparents are selling the last vestiges of wealth to support their advanced age, and whose parents have no jobs, no community, no money, and no hope.

In this population, a $6,000 deductible to obtain health care is a sick joke.  You can get insurance, but you don't have health care.  We already know the health effects of poverty.  Now, we have born an entire generation in a poverty so severe that we are seeing malnutrition of basic nutrients even in urban areas.  Worst of all, we have systematically locked this generation out of the health care system.

No food.  No health care.  No shelter.  No community.  No support.  No advocates.  No jobs.  No work.  No purpose.  No hope.

An impossible problem.

Therefore, the best place to start.

1.3 Why Medicine?
  1. It is impossible have a healthy, productive community without good health care.  Some have said that Western medicine is responsible for the European explosion of culture, technology, and science that dominates the planet.  If you spend large portions of caloric expenditure every day simply fighting disease, then you cannot build a beautiful new world.
  2. Medicine is a somewhat unique profession in that it crosses all cultures, all borders, all ages, and all separations of race, religion, and gender.  Everyone goes to the doctor, and everyone needs a doctor.  Medicine has a unique access to people from before they are born to their families after they die.  There might be a few decades in the middle were people spend a few years avoiding physicals, but medicine remains a peculiarly constant point of contact throughout a population.  It is therefore a unique tool for shaping and molding culture through the cultivation of health and knowledge.

1.4 Wisdom of the Past

It almost always takes less energy to build on something that already exists than to create something new.  We'll need to create new systems to solve these problems, but we can take inspiration from what has worked in the past.  If you have an idea, look to the past for when it has been tried before.

It helps that systems in the past often carried fewer inherent externalities and were more efficient in energetic terms.

Case 1: Homeless & Hungry

A homeless man comes into a greasy diner.  He's hungry.  Hamburger?  $5.  He doesn't have $5 dollars.

It's a time-honored legend that those who can't pay for food may -- at the establishment's prerogative -- work for their food.  In some cultures and even in some establishments in the US, this is still the case.  He gets the hamburger, the establishment gets clean floors or peeled potatoes.

The trouble with this model is that letting random people into the kitchen may violent health and safety standards, and there may not actually be any work for someone to do.  Furthermore, this doesn't really hold up if a significant proportion of your customers are asking to wash the floors in exchange for hamburgers.

The equation changes significantly if the food in the restaurant is coming from close nearby.  There might be a significant amount of work for a very large number of people, depending on how much food is being grown and consumed.

2.1 Template

1) Authority forms sociopathy in the powerful, and induces depression/anxiety in the powerless.  Limit, restrict, and reduce all forms of authority to minimize this phenomenon.

2) Make others' liabilities into your assets.

3) Put more energy in than you take out.  In order to build healthy families and communities, and rebuild the earth, we need to give more than we receive.  (This is a restatement of capitalist market transactions from the opposite perspective.)

The pitch: "Come, take what you need, stay and have dinner with us.  If you like it, come back as often and as much as you wish."