How do we know when life is improving for ourselves and our communities? Pease of mind is a good sign of personal advancement and the more people who get it is a definite sign of an improving society. Peace of mind and social change is not static. When forming the United States of America, it’s forefathers wanted to improve their lives by creating more freedom and equality for all by fighting injustice and inequality. However, they didn’t come to America on their own, they went as a group and started a new society based on a democratic system of justice for all and created a new and independent nation. The Declaration of Independence was an improvement on their lives and the prosperity and peace of mind that has followed since has improved the lives of billions. However, only wealthy land owning white men had this freedom and equality in the beginning, and this had to change to create the prosperous nation of its future. Many Americans are still working on giving freedom and equality to those without it while there are those who are trying to take them away from others. Even when laws are made, they have to be enforced and encourage by the culture that follows to call it an improvement. It seems as things improve, there will always be more work to do, but the goals for a better society will never change.
How do we know when improvement is reached? It starts by knowing what the goal is and whether we’re getting closer to it or moving away from it. The highest goal of a great nation is happiness and the physical comfort that avoids pain, suffering and unnatural death for the majority of it’s people. This objective is not just humanistic; it also has an economic benefit. Society is about the exchange of goods and services to maintain the human race’s survival so improving individual life benefits society and improves civilization for all who come later. The more educated people are, the more educated society becomes and benefits through technological advancements. The more happily employed people are, the less troubled they are, and the stronger the community becomes. Even if helping others didn’t improve society, every human being on earth wants inner happiness, physical comfort, and social inclusion. No mentally healthy person goes through life wishing they had more pain, suffering or isolation from others. Homelessness is never a choice. It happens when the choices are limited. Unpleasant things happen to us all, and we have to struggle continually against them. It just helps if we are working as a group and not individually on our own to benefit the whole larger system and not just ourselves and our tiny social communities because the more lives we improve, the more benefits there are to go around. So, developing a nation happens when it’s society works together to improve all people’s quality of life and not just a few who believe only some people are worthy of the fundamental human needs for survival.
How America has improved the lives of people in 235 years is a very long list. It has more ways to limit pain, suffering and unnatural death that has doubled the human lifespan. It’s people have become more socially connected, more educated, and they continue to include more people into its national prosperity through changes like allowing women to vote; eliminating slavery; keeping children from work labor and opening its boundaries so more people can prosper and improve the world. This development of the individual American life leads to improvement of its society that leads to growth for more in the world that leads to an improved civilization for all. These are examples of improvements, so what does it mean to move backward? We are moving in reverse every time someone tries to take away these basic inalienable freedoms and rights from anyone or tries to take away the opportunity for anyone to be healthy and happy, leaving them with pain, suffering, a shorter lifespan leading to higher costs for the social system to support them. This reversal can happen when the wealthy and powerful take resources from others to improve their life without giving back to improving the lives of others. Going backward by stopping the work to make as many people prosper so society and civilization can advance leads to its downfall. If improving our lives is so simple, why do we go backward? It’s not a choice; it’s a misconception by some as to what is moving forward: To enlarge unendingly the financial wealth of a few or to share the abundant resource wealth with the many?
There is an old argument that with a higher standard of living for more people comes the inevitable running out of the very resources that make us happy and comfortable. When the fear of dwindling resources is high, many start forming smaller groups and choosing sides to guarantee that they’re on the winning side of the battle for resources. With fear also comes heartless self-protection such as selfishness and greed. A democratic government is about improving the lives of others, and if our politicians are not working for the people, they are not improving our society. A representative is going backward when they focus on preserving “perceived limited resources” for a chosen few and not working to improve the lives of the many. An example is the economic “Trickle Down Theory”, which means to give a few of the economic top unlimited resources so that they can prosper and give to the many at the bottom if they feel inclined to. Unfortunately, those who fight to get to the economic top are rarely the psychological type to focus on giving to the lower classes once they get there. They are more focused on building their wealth to unending heights, and often see sharing as limiting their prosperity. But socially healthy democracies work together as a group against this type of oligarchy. This idea of dwindling resources is an old mindset and argument because people and civilizations have come and gone for eons, and the fear of inevitable collapse is something that has always been there walking beside growth and success. But it’s finding ways to share the wealth that always improves society, even if that means finding new ways of sharing resources, not hoarding them. Just look at the rise and fall and rise again of China, Japan, and Germany in the last century. As long as people stay hopeful that they can better the lives of more people, which means they are moving forward. And when they are fearful and start choosing who gets to survive and who must become a sacrifice, like those in African, the Middle East, and homegrown American extremists, we are all moving backward.
It’s a constant fight to keep society from being taken over by fear and greed. We all want happiness, physical comfort and to live as long as possible while avoiding pain and suffering. From the beginning of human life, we have mastered this ability to survive and do it well, or we wouldn’t be here basking in the rewards of a better society. The basic requirements for sustaining human life are clean air, water, nutrients, sleep, shelter and the exchange of goods and services through social connection: Six simple things that are needed to survive today and into the future. The quality and complexity of these six things change, but their basic requirements never do. The earth can continue to give us all of these renewable resources unless we disrespect them and take them for granted. If improving life means making more of these six things available to more people more of the time, than taking them away from people is detrimental to life itself. It’s not an apocalypse, a meteor or religious zealots that we should fear; it’s wasteful, selfish greed and fear of sharing resources that can destroy us.
If we want to improve our lives, we have to stop listening to people who wish to drag us backward by telling us that not every human being has the right to take part in a better life. Or anyone who says tax money is only for the wealthy to become more prosperous and not for the needy, (This ignores the fact that people who are suffering are draining our resources rather than being able to contribute to them as they would like). Or those who believe it’s impossible for everyone to earn a “living wage” for a full-time job while those who allocate the wages take the basic needed incomes from those at the bottom. Or those who believe medical care is not a human right for all and not just those who can pay excessive costs for it. It’s harder now for all to get a decent education than it’s been in 30 years when educating everyone has previously made such an improvement in society. And it’s become more difficult for the disenfranchised to vote. Worst of all it’s harder today for many more Americans to have access to necessities of survival such as jobs, food, housing, clean air, water, and earth. These are definite signs of moving backward because improvement means moving towards happiness, comfort and social inclusion for as many people as possible which are the principles that America was founded on, and it’s what has improved its society for over 200 years. So taking away these benefits to all so the wealthy can become richer will only destroy civilization as quickly as deciding who gets to live or die because of religious ideology will destroy its soul. The old excuse that there isn’t enough to go around so some people will have to suffer is not accurate. It’s a deception by those who have the most and don’t want to share it. It’s an imbalance in economic equality that is saying that there is no way to fix the problems of our times when fixing problems and moving forward is what we’ve done for thousands of years. Improvement is about protecting the ability to share, not the ability to take. The truth is that the goals to improve the world haven’t changed, it’s still about happiness, physical comfort and to live a long and healthy life through the access to those six simple needs: Healthy air, water, food, shelter, sleep and social inclusion. It’s about benefiting more people and not fearfully, mindlessly and unnecessarily going in the wrong direction. Improvement is a sign of success. Having success is creating better lives for more people more of the time. Social success is never fully reached because it’s an ongoing process. If this weren’t true, we would have died off thousands of years ago. Improvement is when more people have access to prosperity more of the time, and this is our touchstone for moving forward. If anyone tries to tell you that there are not enough resources to go around, or we, have to eliminate some people to survive it’s because someone, or some group, is hoarding their share or creating inequality and imbalance or living in socially destructive fear. Once we accept this simple truth, all signs of improvement will be back on track and moving forward again.