Barack Obama has just made history by being elected as America’s first black President. There is euphoria in America and around the world from the feeling that anything is possible, that things can and will change, that humanity has progressed, and that we have possibly taken one more step towards the ideal society.
From Thomas More’s Utopia to Samuel Butler’s Erewhon, man has dreamed of an ideal society. Today is a good day for each of us to ask ourselves what kind of world we want to live in, what kind of world we can help create, what kind of world we will be proud of.
Nothing happens unless first a dream.
– Carl Sandburg
Here is my wish list for our world.
1. Those who have spontaneously share with those who have not.
- Hotels and restaurants have takeaway counters where dishes uneaten by patrons will be given to the poor.
- Schools will encourage children from rich families to bring an extra sandwich for their classmates who have no pocket money to buy lunch.
- Department stores will donate last season’s clothes to needy families.
- Families in developed countries will adopt families in poorer countries, sponsoring their food and education.
- Charitable foundations will not be the domain of the super wealthy, but set up by ordinary middle class individuals to share their excess wealth with others.
2. Every child has a loving home and family.
- Orphanages will be a thing of the past.
- Adoption procedures will be made much easier, and families that are able and willing will take in children who have lost their natural parents.
- Parents who are too young or unprepared allow their children to live in foster homes where they will be better cared for, and retain visiting rights.
- Children have access to parents besides their own, in case their own parents fail them. Godparents, or parent groups, could play a larger role.
3. Each person leaves the world a better place than he found it.
- Renewable sources of energy are the norm. Every household has its own solar panel or windmill, resorting to oil-based energy only as a back-up.
- Buildings make use of natural light and promote air ventilation, to reduce reliance on lighting, air-conditioning, heating and other energy guzzlers.
- Children are taught to clean up after themselves and others. Picking up trash on the street is an instinctive reaction, instead of leaving it to the cleaners.
- Governments are comprised of visionary statesmen, and countries are run by those competent enough to make prudent decisions.
- Companies who are good corporate citizens and contribute to society’s well-being see their market value rise because consumers vote for these companies with their wallets.
4. Individuals, organisations and countries spend within their means.
- Financial literacy is taught in schools as part of the curriculum. All students are taught to understand personal balance sheets, cashflow statements, and interest rates.
- Credit and debt limits are a fraction of a person’s income, and non-mortgage debts are permitted only as an emergency measure, for a limited time period.
- Banks are obliged to conduct seminars on cashflow management, and individuals allowed to apply for loans only after attending these seminars.
- Any person in debt will be assigned a qualified financial mentor who will assist that person in managing his finances.
- Governments are accountable to other governments for their budgets and expenditure, with sharing on practices that worked for other countries.
5. The healthy take care of the sick and dying.
- Every person is registed as a volunteer at a hospital or hospice, knowing that by working with the sick and dying, she is readying herself for what she will one day go through.
- Neighbourhoods have visiting groups to drop in on the elderly who live alone, so that no one is forgotten or neglected in their old age.
- Grandparents live with or near to their grandchildren, so that children can learn from a young age how to take care of the old, and that growing old and dying is normal and a part of life.
- Hospitals and hospices are small, boutique set-ups dispersed throughout the city and suburbs. This allows more personalised care, and allows the sick and dying to remain with the living instead of being shut off somewhere far away from life.
Of course there will be difficulties in realising any ideal, and not everyone will share the same ideal. Still, it has to start with a vision, an ideal, a dream. Maybe you can start dreaming too.
If enough of us dare, and enough of us do, then we can change the world. Yes we can!