If we want to talk about values in society, we firstly need to define the meaning of “society”. Definition: A society represents a group of individuals that stand in relation to each other. Since every human being stands in direct or indirect relation to every other human being on Earth, every human being is part of the global society (→ Basic Understandings).
Question: What is the goal of society? Why would people be interested in coming together in groups to stand in relation to each other in the first place?
Every human being has needs. A group of people may be able to satisfy these needs more effectively than an individual can on her or his own. From that basic understanding, we conclude that the purpose of every society is to satisfy the needs of its members. Hence, one value in our global society should be the following:
“The global society endeavors to satisfy the needs
of all human beings.”
For this goal to be fulfilled, every human being’s scope of liberty must be extended without limiting the scope of liberty of any other human being. A single human being must be capable of unfolding freely without impeding any other member of society.
The expansion of liberty requires effective communication and organization to such an extent that society is able to establish the following relation between its members:
“Your advantage results in my advantage
which in turn results in your advantage.”
For you to get a more understandable picture of what we mean, we would like to illustrate this in the following examples:
- The incentive to harm others in order to steal their food, can decrease dramatically once everybody is well fed.
- I can base my research on your research. The better the conditions for your research were, the better the results of my research might be. So, I may come to conclusions that help you in turn to solve some of your problems.
- A technician working on an oil rig can fully concentrate on her task, because of optimal working conditions. That decreases the probability of oil accidents. Fishing in an unpolluted ocean, a fisherman is able to provide healthy, nutritious fish for everyone and thus, for the technician and her family.
- My standard of living is higher when you are well educated, since you can realize interesting ideas for your own benefit, and thus for everyone’s benefit.
- I can be by your side to comfort you when you are facing hard times, provided my life situation grants me the time to do so.
The diagram above illustrates what we would call a model society. It shows two individuals. These individuals have individual goals. Both live within society. Hence, the realization of their ideas passes through society, providing society assists them (e.g. in gaining knowledge, in acquiring food, water, energy, means of communication, etc.).
The better society assists the individual, the better and faster the individual might achieve her or his personal goal. Achieving the personal goal, the individual contributes to society by developing ideas, methods, understandings and technical solutions. Furthermore, the individual contributes by either actively helping others to understand, develop, create, practice, or simply by passively inspiring others to create art, music, poetry or other forms of expression (→ Education). Thereby it can never be universally determined what is a valuable contribution and what is not. Even the seemingly most insignificant detail may be a contribution that can assist some other individual in her or his endeavor for personal satisfaction.
As long as society provides satisfactory assistance, there are few reasons for destructive contributions, as the individual can follow her or his ambitions (→ Human Behavior). Thus, contributions are primarily constructive and the majority of contributions will help other members to realize their personal goals. This is our understanding of how an ideal society functions.
Read “The Scientific Method”, “Technology” and “Handling Resource Scarcity” to gain an idea of how we might get near to a society illustrated above.
To create a societal system that operates close to that ideal, we think the following values need to be established in the global society:
“The well being of others is as important as my own well being.”
My well being is strongly connected to the well being of others. If there are people in my environment who violently rob others, I might become a victim of crime. These people might rob others due to suffering a lack of access to goods and services. That may be goods like food. Hence, safety and peace for myself largely depend on my fellow humans’ well being.
Eating food is a human need. And just like food, goods and services are provided to satisfy needs. Considering this, we think it is safe to say that people often rob other people because they do not see other possibilities to have their needs met and to realize their dreams and ambitions. Consequently, I am interested in a society that cares for the individual needs of all human beings.
“The Earth’s resources are the common heritage
of all the world’s people.”
The Earth’s resources are limited. We, all human beings, need these resources to satisfy our needs. All human beings have needs. Some of these needs we share with others, some we do not share. This world is one world. Only by responsibly using the Earth’s resources can we design a peaceful and comfortable life on this planet. Applied to mental resources, this means not to build artificial borders that hinder the exchange of information. Additionally, it means not ignoring, but considering the existing ideas and proposals to find solutions for the conflicts we face.
“It is not important to make short term decisions,
it is important to find sustainable solutions. “
In our eyes, decision making means stating a problem’s circumstances as fixed. “Finding solutions” means considering the problem in its entirety with all the inherent interactions. It means questioning all reasons as widely as possible to solve the problem. “Finding solutions” means using every available understanding and expertise. Furthermore, it means talking with as many involved people as possible to point out the complexity of the problem as a whole. This enables the development of a solution that takes care of everyone’s needs.
For example, I suffer from a headache. I go to the doctor. The doctor offers me the choice between taking some medicine or going to rehab. Both possibilities might bring a good feeling in the short term. However, my headache may be the result of social pressure or emotional stress at work. Maybe I have negative attitudes towards myself or the rest of the world. Maybe I am not able to manage my time efficiently. Eventually, I have problems with my friends or my family without being aware of it. In the long run, it is necessary to examine the complexity of the entire problem to understand it and to finally develop a sustainable solution.
“It is easier to learn ways to deal with change
than to fear change.”
Everything is constantly changing. The seasons change. Our body’s cells renew constantly. The environment we live in changes. Over the course of a lifetime, the human being’s character develops and reshapes, and thus society is in constant change.
Hence, being afraid of change cannot be healthy. In our eyes, it might be helpful to understand changes and their reasons. This might enable us to avoid negative changes and to promote positive change in the future.
—– A short comparison to our contemporary society (2012) —–
If we take a look at global politics, global press coverage or the global economy, it does not seem that the global society is aware of itself. We only think in “nations” and “companies”. Thus, the values stated above are neither established nor endeavored by society. More precisely, every human being is currently far away from being optimally assisted by society. Everyone has to ensure their basic requirements are satisfied directly or indirectly by earning money. “Nations” and “companies” compete with each other over acquiring “market shares”. We, individuals, compete with each other over acquiring satisfying “jobs”. When I have a lot of “money”, you might have not a coin. Obviously, today, my advantage is largely based on your disadvantage.
Even people with access to a lot of “money” cannot move freely on Earth, as long as the planet is covered in dangerous areas due to violent conflicts. Furthermore, all people have to permanently ensure their “wealth” is secure. Finally, all human beings will suffer the consequences of global climate change and environmental pollution that contaminates food, water and air.
Imagine a world in which no awareness about the benefits of a societal system exists. More precisely, imagine a world in which everyone must care for personal needs exclusively on their own (e.g. food, water, housing, clothes, etc.). In this world nobody has time for concentrating on complex research or engineering to simplify processes. For example, technology like the “pencil” would not exist in this world. A wonderful tool that is used by artists to draw stunning pictures, by designers to develop new ideas and by nearly every one of us to write down thoughts.
However, the ideal described above is not something new to us. Mainly, we live it in our families and circles of friends. Even today, those parts of society live this way if human beings are able to overview the members of their close environment and are directly affected by their own behavior. For that reason, complete villages or sport teams exceedingly care for another to create a comfortable life and to achieve goals they have in common. If you meet two people on the street who smile at each other you discovered such a society in a small variant.
Our conclusion: a functioning societal system is useful to and wonderful for everyone’s life, provided all members experience its advantages.
—– Myths and Opinions —–
In our lectures and conversations about society we established a collection of Myths and Opinions that have crossed our way most frequently. Some of these statements are widely spread amongst the people in this world. We would like to give you some thought provoking impulses concerning some of the Myths and Opinions of our collection.
“It is important that everyone is contributing to society.”
Nowadays, this is a very widespread opinion.
Question: Is it important to contribute, no matter what is contributed? We think that one of the problems nowadays is that everyone is obliged to contribute something to acquire the means (money) to realize her or his ideas afterwards. If society urges its members to contribute in order to “earn a living”, people are often forced to do something that they are not particularly interested in doing. This might result in destructive contributions like participating in organized crime, dealing weapons or destroying the rainforest to gain arable land.
We think it is important that the societal system enables people to decide rather not to contribute at all, than to knowingly contribute in destructive ways.
“Why should others profit from my work
without doing something in exchange?”
If one does things out of inner motivation and not out of duty, one profits alone from doing these things. A good example of how that works is what we think of as “spare time activities” nowadays. The fact that others might benefit from ones projects becomes a bonus, not a problem if the project is pursued for the sake of “joy at doing it”. This is because ones motivation to work springs from the passion that one has for that certain subject, not out of the need to “earn a living”. If provided the necessary knowledge, tools and means to acquire skills by society, the individual can experience the possibility to share her or his findings with others as very pleasant.