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The web, like the world, is not yet overflowing with good sense. This site is a small contribution toward rectifying this lack.
Indeed, stupidity – only partly my own – led me to create this site. It has been said that the two most common elements on earth are Hydrogen and Stupidity. Not to quibble; hydrogen is ubiquitous, while stupidity seems to be limited to the species we think of as the most advanced on earth, our own Homo sapiens. After millions of years of hominid evolution, a point was reached, within the last several hundred thousand years, where the primate who eventually became human could no longer live instinctively. His brain had developed to the point where he unwittingly complicated his affairs and his society so that instinctive behavior no longer sufficed, and he needed to apply his mind consciously to solve the problems he created for himself. Unfortunately, that mind, in its current state of evolution, has not been uniformly up to the task. It has permitted Man to complicate his life to a greater extent than it has permitted him to solve the resulting complications. As a result, Man is unique among species in choosing behaviors that are self-destructive. One of our central problems as a species is how to deal with this fact, which underlies such evils as militarism and war, crime, and environmental degradation.
The most serious consequence of Man's limited ability to deal with the results of his actions is the ongoing catastrophic degradation of the biosphere. No other species has damaged the Earth to any measurable degree. Mankind's damage to the Earth is more than just measurable – it has become a serious threat to the continued existence of every higher species of organism on Earth, including Man himself. Edward O.Wilson has aptly called the human species the "serial killer of the biosphere." I hope that these pages will eventually contribute in a small measure to a broadening of public concern over this complex problem, which can only be successfully tackled through an international unity of purpose.
I conclude that radical reform of education, both for children and adults, is a key to mankind's survival and success. The measure of education, and its goal, is not to raise test scores, but to teach each individual to think critically and independently, with a thirst for knowledge and the ability to distinguish actuality from bunk. Unless we develop this faculty in our citizens there will be little cause for hope that future generations will exhibit greater wisdom than those of the past. And without that, mankind's historical preoccupation with self-aggrandizement, materialism, and militarism will continue to lead us down the path to self-destruction. We can envision changes in attitude, inculcated through a truly liberal education, that will cause coming generations to seek and bring about a peaceful and vibrant world-wide human community, whose population and lifestyles are adjusted to live in harmony with the natural world. We can envision this, and it behooves us to do what we can to help bring it about.
I am motivated to offer these nuggets by the observation that humanity appears to be digging its own grave; that even in the world's purported showcase democracy we continue to elect leaders who show little interest in solving the Earth's pressing environmental and social problems. This is of course not the fault of the inadequate leaders – they are what they are – but of the people who choose them. (Yes, the people are what they are too; it's perhaps not "their fault" either.)
In America we live in a kind of "democracy" where the people, every four years, participate in choosing their political leaders from a small cadre of the political elite – those who suit our moneyed oligarchs – which theoretically gives us a chance to rectify errors of the past. Equally often I'm reminded of Adlai Stevenson's (or someone's) cryptic remark, "Your politicians serve you right." And isn't there an ancient Chinese proverb: "Wherever you go, there you are." In my opinion the chief benefit of our elections is that it gives us new things to correct next time. And that's something.
An essential part of a democracy, or even of a "democracy", is willingness of its citizens to abide by the results of the political process, while we avail ourselves of every opportunity to improve our lot in the next election, and perhaps to improve the political process. Another essential part is hope.
All content © H. Paul Lillebo.
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