Sep 28, 2009

What's a Fulfilling Life In a Desirable Society?

When the only form of government known was one of either absolute or authoritarian flavor, then it was natural to think of it as a threat to liberty. Even in liberal democracies today, the government can reach too far--as we saw under the 8 years of the Bush administration. They've been advances in thinking and in practice when it comes to organizing a civil society, but the question remains: what is the purpose of government? Different people in different times have given different answers to this. Assuming that our government exists for the benefit of most citizens, then the question is: how much power to give government and what is it that we are trying to achieve when you say "for the benefit of many"?

Certain ideological rigidity prevents some of our bright fellows from seeing the necessity for reforming a broken system--like broken laws or an operating system that's full of viruses. We have the greatest percentage of educated people ever; much of it is the result of public education. In the last 100 years, we've doubled human longevity. Advances in medicine and technology have transformed our society. Yet, some of us seem to be clinging to old ways that don't serve us well in this 21st century. Understandably, modernity may be perceived as a threat to the "old, tried & true," and it's poses great challenges to traditions and ancient belief systems. I'm not arguing for replacing everything old, but let's not be conservatives because of disposition.

We have to revisit old beliefs and re-examine our ways of life. Building a sense of self-confidence--a requirement for unforced change--takes time, effort and a keen understanding of what's going on around us. We have to give up our collective illusions and scrap the myths that were meant for traditional societies where the notion of commnonwealth didn't really exist.

Let's start by thinking the notions of liberty and equality. What do they mean to you? How do they fit in your idea of a good society? Do you have a definition of a good life?

No comments: