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Coming Of Age In The 21st Century


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The world we live in now, the world at the beginning of the 21st century, is in a panic. The fall of the twin towers has provided an excuse to fast-track the militarization of the global corporate empire. The pandemic of the advertisement incessantly targets us not as people but as markets, as playthings of global capital, and with increasing violence. Rapidly accelerating global warming is the inheritance of every new child on Earth. The oceans have been overfished and polluted. The forests are rapidly disappearing and the once fertile planet is being covered by concrete and toxic waste. If the third world industrializes the environment will surely collapse. The conservatives believe they are immortal; as a collective Nero they fiddle and horde while the world melts. Those who cry liberal are by definition too ineffectual to do anything worthwhile. The socialists are incohesive and factioned. Environmentalists are branded as terrorist. Nationalism has replaced religion as the cause for tyranny and war, though worse because it can claims grounds in reason. International law and order has become a mere plaything for those within the power elite. The strength of any large and successful economy rests on the exploitation of the poor and impoverished. Xenophobia is on the rise as does talk of civilizational warfare, ideas nourished by our governments and media. Opportunity does not becon like before. To succeed, now more than ever, we must conform. Drastically, to succeed IS to conform. Celebrities have become the Gods of modern paganism. Hollywood and the music and print industries manufacture and distribute apathy and acceptance, now as always.

Do we simply love and leave the world to be and fall as it may? This is unacceptable as the idea rests on the principle of a social contract which is not being fulfilled by those who must necessarily take the first step. Do we shut our mouths and keep silent on the plight of ethics and morality? If we see a wrong, do we not try to make it right? Do not the poor need food? Do not the ill need medicine? Do not the homeless need shelter? If the possibility of progress requires a secondary-means, ought not this secondary-means be available to all? These are ills on which we cannot keep a silent and submissive demeanor and these are ills which must be addressed at a global level.

We are born into civilization and we have no choice. A place must be found for each and every person regardless of the size of the population or any borders which may exist. This goes beyond existence as a mere consumer. A consumer is no higher evolved than a basic virus and is equal parts as deadly. To justly and dutifully exist and participate in society is to engage in a medium complementary both to an individual's skill and mentality. That is, a person must be employed within a profession to which they are both good at and enjoy. Thus the society benefits as well from the utmost possible productivity of each of its members.

Any system which hopes to achieve such a goal is one which must take into account the basic differences which comprise each and every individual. Standardized means of mass evaluation are by nature contradictory to the nature of an individual. Deviation from the norm should be encouraged as a boon, not a detraction, as it provides a plurality of approaches and conclusions, strengthening the means and ends of any project. Instead of providing frameworks into which the individual will be integrated, the individuals themselves must be developed to the point they can develop their own systems and frameworks. This requires free and adaptive education at all levels, which in turn gives the populace the chance for full development. As humans we cherish first and foremost intelligence as our greatest asset. Education cannot therefore be a segregated institution, available only to those with money or influence.

If we as individuals expect the freedom, as a right, to pursue our own wants and desires we must take into account a system of obligations as well. One of these obligations is the recognition that society is for all and that we must give back what we take. To this is the notion that no one appears and succeeds out of a vacuum. Those who achieved their goals did so with the help of the society in which they succeeded. Greed will make enemies of us all. Heavy wealth ought to be redistributed to those who have nothing so that they may too have the same chances the wealthy had to achieve their comforts. This is a precursor to a larger obligation, and that is that we act with justness. Double standards based on greeds are the vilest of vices.

It is principles such as these upon which a civilization ought to be based. They allow freedom from fear and violence. They allow people to live together in a community. They allow humanity to be nurtured and flourish. Without a degree of mutual co-operation, sacrifice and gain there would be no record of humanity. It is instilled in the very mechanism of our species. Let us not change this simply because we can.

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