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A Blameless Explanation of Why Everything is Falling Apart, for Schoolkids

A Blameless Explanation of Why Everything is Falling Apart, for Schoolkids

If I were invited to talk to a group of students (of any age) today, to explain why everything seems to be hopeless and falling apart, this is what I think I would tell them.

When I was young and idealistic, back in the 1960s — back when your grandparents were your age — everything seemed possible. We’d apparently forced an end to the ghastly war in Vietnam through our massive protests. We were strident environmentalists, really believing we could avert the global ecological disaster many were already predicting.

There were seven things in particular we thought were true and important to fight for, and there seemed to be nearly universal agreement that these goals were both possible and desirable to achieve:

  1. world peace
  2. an equitable (re-)distribution of wealth (and power) — enough that everyone could live a comfortable life, and not so much for anyone that it would inevitably lead to waste or abuse
  3. radical action to halt and reverse ecological destruction — we already knew back then about the risk of catastrophic climate change
  4. women’s equality, and autonomy over their own bodies
  5. free, universal, quality health care, education, employment security, old-age security, and public transportation
  6. enforced regulations to rein in capitalist excesses and oligopolies, and ensure clean, safe communities and workplaces, and
  7. a truly democratic polity — a system where the citizenry was well-informed, and the political system was democratic and responsive to the citizens’ collective will.

We didn’t believe that any of these goals would be easy to achieve, but in the late 1960s we thought they were possible. In fact, it was generally considered the absolute responsibility of governments to work towards and sustain these seven goals.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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