It's not that I think I can change the world. I'm not that full of myself. What I think is that regardless of whether i can or not, I should damn well try.
About a week ago i was drunk. Now let's be clear - if you qualify all states of sobriety as a kind of continuum, with sober on one end, tipsy in the middle, and drunk on the end, i was somewhere off the continuum in what i like to call "WTF was i thinking" land.
Somewhere on the way home, as i was riding in the passenger seat and watching the world fly by, I had a thought that shook me pretty badly: "The world is the way it made itself." Trying to change the way the world works is as futile as trying to change the way a person thinks or acts. It doesn't work. The change needs to come from within.
Have you ever quit an addiction? Most people don't know this, but I used to smoke. Granted, it's not like I smoked my whole life, but I did smoke about a pack a day for almost 3 years. I say almost because I quit about 3 or four times in there - always for a week or even a month at the most.
One day I got sick. Not a real bad sick, mind you, but sick enough that I decided that since I could barely breathe as it was, I should maybe lay off the cigarettes until i got better.
About one week later I was feeling better, and I practically hopped and skipped (as much as one can do so while driving) to the gas station to buy my first pack of "post crud" cigarettes. Camel Lights. (yeah, get the laughs out now you Marlboro smokers)
I lit up my cigarette (not sure that doing it while at the pump was so genius) and took my first drag ... which turned into my first gag.
I don't know if it was a stale pack. I don't know if I was still a little sick. What i know is that i can't remember having ever tasted something so foul, and i threw the whole pack away. Now, all you smokers out there know what an effort it usually is to throw a whole pack of smokes away ... trust me - it's usually harder than cutting off a finger. (maybe your pinkie)
Somewhere within that last week, my body and/or my mind had done without my conscious interaction what I had been unable to do for 3 years. I had no reason to quit. No desire to quit. I had simply stopped wanting to smoke.
I think there are a lot of stories like that out there. People who didn't decide to change - they just did.
I think the world is like that. I think maybe all we need is an event, or a movement, or a single thought that gives us a chance to give up our current way of living for a better one.
More importantly, i think that we have the tools and technology to end our need for societal stratification. We have the resources to give everyone everything they want without them having to step on someone else to get it.
Bull, right? No way can i convince someone to work in a factory to make me my new iPod if they've got everything they need, right?
Well ... yeah. Absolutely right. But why does that person need to work in a factory at all? We have computers and robots that can do practically EVERYTHING in that factory.
Uh oh - we've hit the first stumbling points right there, haven't we? First off - computers and robots aren't free! Second, what will those unskilled laborers do instead?!
Free? Of course not! Not in terms of money. But what good does money do? All it does is provide a medium with which people can trade and barter on equal footing. What if it was taken for granted that you got out what you put in?
I actually heard your eyes rolling there, but bear with me. Just assume that it's possible for now, ok? We won't get anywhere if you're not willing to stretch your imagination! As i said fairly recently on a conference call "OK, i've heard all the reasons why we can't and shouldn't do this. Now let's re-focus and try to think of ways that it COULD work..."
So let's pretend that the world would keep turning without money. Who makes the computers and robots that produce the iPods instead of the workers? Well, more robots and computers! At first we'd have to build the builders, so to speak, but after that they keep running with maintenance and programming.
So who designs the robots? The computer systems? Who maintains all these things?
People who like doing those things, of course! There will always be people who like to tinker and fix, and people who like to program and design. In a system where everyone has what they want, everyone can do what they want. This of course raises the question of laziness. Why do anything if you don't need to? Let me ask you - after you've been on vacation for a week, or maybe two, do you want to keep doing nothing? Or do you wish you were doing something you loved? Maybe that something is your job - maybe it's a different job. But you want to do SOMETHING.
Humans aren't lazy, we fill the time we have with the things we want to do. When we're on vacation or the weekend, the last thing we want to do is work, but if all we had was weekends and vacation, all we would be able to think about would be to do SOMETHING. Preferably something we love to do!
So those robots and computers came from a place that made them. Simple as that. And yes, they were free. The were built using raw materials that were gathered by people who like working with their hands. Don't bother son, it's turtles all the way down.
I was going to answer the question about "unskilled" laborers, but I think I already have. They'll be busy doing something they love, and something they're "skilled" at. Because no one is unskilled.
This idea that everyone can have everything and no one needs to be hungry or poor may sound extreme, i know. But it's not ridiculous, and it's not unfathomable. It's not communism, and it's not insanity. It's what we're capable of.
It is what humanity is capable of.
I don't know if we'll ever get there. I don't know if anything i ever do could help us get there. What i do know is that i've thrown away the pack of BS beliefs, and if i can help start that change everywhere else, you can bet your bottom denomination that I'll try. If i can't? If it's hopeless? Nothing's hopeless. And at least I'll be able to say i tried.