by Lincoln Sayger
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We should not always be content. Discontentment has its place. Some things we see around us should not be tolerated. Waste. Corruption. Oppression. While we should be content with our own personal situation, we should not be content with whatever policy society has fallen into. Rather, we should have an internal regulation of moral objectives similar to the internal regulation our bodies have of temperature. We need to be warm-blooded in our moral outlook, not cold-blooded, accepting whatever tendencies society has indulged long enough to become the status quo. To put it another way, from time to time, we need to indulge and nurture some pie-in-the-sky thinking.
Unless we look at the world around us and think, "This is not the way we should be doing things," nothing will change for the better. We will slowly but inevitably continue to see our society's moral fabric become more and more dingy and unhealthy. We need to look around us and think, "It should be more like this," so that we can take the reasonable actions available to us to improve the reality as much as is actually possible. When we don't, we fall into the trap of thinking that the waste, corruption, and oppression we see (or ignore) around us cannot be changed, or worse, are the way it should be.
So, it is important to let your idealistic side come out and play, now and then. It is important to ask yourself some hard questions. Why is this idea naive? Is it really impossible? Even though the situation is more complex than a naive notion would have it, is it really so complex that we can't make it more like the ideal than it is? Idealistic thinking can help us to identify the hurdles we need to overcome to put into practice more rational plans. Maybe we can't eradicate corruption, but maybe we can make it so uncommon that people are able to recognize it and quickly pull it up like the weed it is whenever it rears its ugly head. Maybe we can't have a modern world without waste, but maybe we can improve the ratio of efficient processes to inefficient ones to save money and improve air quality at the same time. Maybe we can't destroy all oppression, but maybe we can provide channels for people to use to escape or overcome oppression.
If we're able to make even a small improvement, that will be much better than having lived our lives in such a way that we allowed or assisted the continued creep of societal values into worse and more selfish paths. Maybe I'm just a dreamer, but many of the conveniences and life-saving technologies of our present time were the result of just this kind of dreaming.
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