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A Humanist Manifesto - John Gardiner

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	I am driving my car down the highway, listening to the tape deck.
It's an old tape - one I made some years ago and have come across while
cleaning up my office. I have no idea even what songs I put on it in that
long ago time. I listen to The Animals, Black Sabbath, Cream and other
bands from my youth. Then, I'm surprised to hear Jimy Hendrix talking on
the machine. "Like, we're just gonna jam, man," he says. And jam they do.
It's the opening of Hendrix's famous Star Spangled Banner from Woodstock.
I've not heard it for many years, and have usually skipped over it when the
opportunity to hear it has presented itself. It can be somewhat hard on
aging ears.
	Today, though, I listen. In fact, I turn the volume up. And, as I
listen to the screaming sounds of the guitar, the gut-wrenching feedback, I
remember how meaningful those disharmonious notes were back in the era of
Viet Nam and civil rights, the flag burning and draft dodgers, and all the
rest of it. I begin to weep, and sob unabashedly. Nothing has changed. We
are there again, only the need is far greater and the times far more
desparate. They have thrown us their table scraps and we have gone to war
for them. We have learned no lessons.

Why a Humanist Manifesto?
	The further we travel, the less far we seem to go. While it is a
basic assumption that humanity is evolving toward a higher plane of
existence, there is little proof that we are evolving at all. The world of
the distant past seems a barbaric place to some of us in today's world, but
while the so-called barbarians of that age practiced physical barbarism,
there are many of a similar nature in this age who practice economic
	It is blatantly obvious even to the lowliest of our species that
there is little fairness in life as it is. Explain the concept of fairness
to someone born into what we hopefully call the developing world. Because
of where they were born, they will live a life filled with poverty,
starvation and misery. They will have no opportunity to live the so-called
American Dream that has dragged us all into dreamless sleep. They will be
lucky to eat and to live to the age of five. And yet the majority of people
on the planet live in such circumstances, in hunger and darkness, so the
few of us can live in opulence and be engaged in the pursuit of pleasure.
	This was perhaps tolerable in the world of past ages, when the poor
had little awareness of their poverty because they had no knowledge of the
relative richness in other parts of the world. This has now changed to the
point where every person on the globe is very aware that some have while
others have not. There is general awareness of the huge inequity that
exists on the planet. The poor want a piece of the action. Either we agree
to share or they will take it. It is a brutally simple fact. It is already
	What is much more surprising than the realization that the world's
poor live in relative misery in the modern age is the fact that most people
in the developed world also dwell in a type of misery. They have food,
shelter, protection of body and soul and many earthly delights, but are
fundamentally unhappy. They feel an unbelieveable pressure to consume their
society's goods and services at a rate that threatens to strip the planet
bare and drive them to insanity. Their society is rampant with health
disorders, emotional breakdowns and a variety of other ailments brought on
by what they refer to as stress. Even with all of their opulence and
pleasure, they do indeed seem to live in as much misery as the world's poor.
	The world is an unfair and unkind place for most of its
inhabitants. That is simply wrong and must be changed. We must hope that we
have indeed evolved to the point where we can create a new humanity. We
must develop a humanist economy that values life above all else. It is the
only way we will survive and achieve all that we are capable of.

The Mercantile Economy
	The economy that has driven humanity for its entire existence on
the planet has been given many names. Whether feudal, free market,
capitalist, communist or whatever, they have been basically the same system
- a mercantile economy based on trade and the pursuit of wealth. In the
pursuit of trade and wealth, humanity has explored and exploited our world.
Nearly every technological development that our species can lay claim to
came into being to facilitate the movement of goods and services in a
trading economy. Even those societies that have relied on a type of
communistic system of government have been traders, always anxious to
acquire something better than they could get within their own economy.
	This desire to have something more than you should normally have
has led to social unrest and violence in almost every case. Throughout
history, we have warred among ourselves, always for some great prize that
we felt could not be attained through peaceful means. Throughout history,
we have coveted our neighbour's possessions and sought to acquire more than
we should normally be entitled to.
	The Mercantile Economy seems a product of human nature; that part
of it that could be called competitiveness, but which often masquarades
under the guise of greed and avarice. Humans always seem to have to out
possess those who surround them in life. Regardless how much material
wealth they gather, there seems always to be a desire for more. Whether
this comes from true greed, or from long ago times, when nearly all people
felt a fundamental and base insecurity concerning their ability to sustain
themselves over the term of their existence, is open to some discussion.
Life shows again and again that you can really never have enough capital or
wealth to protect yourself from its viscissitudes. It will catch up to you
- it will get you no matter how much you are able to accumulate. Still, it
seems our basic survival instinct drives us to forever seek more than we
have, so as to somehow protect ourselves from the vaguaries of life.
	Certainly, throughout our history, all exploration and all
technological development have been closely tied to the Mercantile Economy.
Whether we've been building the instruments of war or the instruments of
peace, it has somehow been bound up with the need to continue to consume
and to reach out for the resources to feed that consumption.
	In an ideal world, people would have only enough to sustain a
reasonable standard of life for themselves and their dependents. This ideal
has been perverted to the point where only a few have come to possess
nearly all of the wealth in the world and to control the lives of nearly
all of the people in the world. It is a wrongheaded notion. It is always
wrong for some to have more than others. All are equal. All take the same
risk at birth. The fact that some have the skills and abilities to
successfully exploit the current economic system, while others do not,
should not determine who lives and who dies, or who laughs and who cries.
	But while the excessive pursuit of wealth and its utter
concentration in the hands of the few is wrong, it is what has gotten us
here. And we have somehow gotten here. It has been a dismal journey through
centuries fraught with death and destruction and wars and revolution, but
it has been a journey nonetheless. And we have survived it, some in better
shape than others, but we have still made it through.
	This Mercantile Economy was created in an ad hoc and piecemeal
manner, developed to meet a series of ongoing crises that have wracked
humanity since its beginnings. There are no rules written in a large and
cumbersome book of life. We have spontaneously created a series of
haphazard guidelines for life on the planet as each new crisis has unfolded
and we have scrambled to save ourselves from it.
	Throughout our history, we have been a religious peoples, even
given the fact that there is no tangible evidence of a god or gods or
anything supernatural on the planet. There are many who would argue that
this is blasphemy and sacrilege, or even that it is foolish to deny the
existence of ghosts, even holy ones, but the claim can still be made. And
while the religions of the world may well have been created by a
frightened, fearful humanity in the dark and dangerous beginnings of its
existence, it is also certainly true that all religions have been
ultimately used to control the poor and disenfranchised in our world.
Religion promises that there is reward in a next life if there is
sufficient suffering in this one. There is somehow justification for
poverty and misery within this promise. And false promises are like false
gods. Empty and evil.
	Certainly, even if religion has been the opiate of the masses for
most of our brief history, it has been replaced by wealth as the drug of
choice in the modern age. Humanity now freely worships material wealth and
allows it to openly drive all decision-making on the planet. It is the
answer to all questions. It is manna from heaven.
	All effort in the world is directed toward the pursuit of wealth.
Whether dropping bombs on an unfortunate planetary neighbour, or developing
a cure for cancer, the pursuit of wealth is the driving force. And while
there are awards and honours for great acts of war and great acts of peace,
the usual call is to show us the money. This is the way our world has gone.
Show us the money.
	The problem, of course, is that not all have fair and open access
to the money. Some are born with it. Some have the right skill set to
acquire it. Still others are given it. But not all have the equal chance to
acquire it. And until that is the case, there can really be no fairness to
life. Some will starve while others gorge. Some will weep while others
laugh. Some will die while others live. And none of this is a free chosing
of free will. It is the luck of the draw. It is being born here instead of
there. It is wrong that some are lucky enough to win, while others are only
lucky enough to die.
	So, what is the point of saying these things are true, given the
fact there seems no way of changing? Humanity seems on the same path now
that it set out on at the beginning of its history. The gods and the kings
have changed, but that has been all. We live and we die, but the nature of
life remains essentially the same, and has remained the same for all of our
	But while we may not have changed, we have changed the world around
us. We have built great and mighty technology, we have conquered each other
and a good part of the planet and we have fundamentally altered the space
in which we live. The concept of Spaceship Earth has become a real one and,
indeed, while we were always passengers travelling together on a huge,
intergalactic space vessel, it is like we have multiplied to the point
where we now totally consume all space on the ship. We can no longer move
about without causing great concern for our fellow passengers. Air and
sustenance are becoming increasingly difficult to acquire. We are fighting
for space.
	Yet through all of our struggles, we have steadfastly held to the
belief that we are somehow rising to a higher level of existence. Indeed,
human history is usually seen as a line steadily progressing into a better
future. It seems we are an optimistic lot, if nothing else. And it does
seem, if you live in certain parts of the world, that we are perhaps
evolving into something more than we were before. But if you live in many
other parts of the world, indeed, in most parts of the world, it's hard to
argue that the level of existence has improved much at all, and, in fact,
in relative terms, it has almost certainly declined. Much of the world's
population had no idea it was poor until the last century. While people
starve to death the same today as they did in the past, in past times they
thought of this as merely the normal cycle of life. They didn't realize
that while they were starving, others were gorging themselves and feeding
the leftovers to their dogs and cats.


	Others have played this name game throughout the centuries, and
there have been kings and prelates and presidents and dictators and all
manner of leader and all manner of government for all manner of people both
good and bad. And there is really no need for a new name or a new system
that is really just based on the same old economy. Because, for certain, no
matter what so-called system of government with whatever manner of
leadership, all have been the same, with no way for the people to shake
free of their shackles. Indeed, it has been the same thing over and over
that has confounded the great and the small throughout our history. Call it
trade-goods, money, wealth, capital, whatever you wish. It comes in many
guises and with many noble titles, but it is at the very root of every
system of social organization that has existed on the planet. Its
distribution has been the focus of nearly all of our effort since the
beginning of time.
	But what does it matter how we have arrived where we are? What does
it matter other than that the world turns for another day and that we must
live life upon it? And who could argue that we are making a sorry mess of
the whole human affair and that we will be badly remembered for our
efforts? Even the lowly cattlebeast chewing her cud beside the busy
thoroughfare must laugh at the way things have turned out. To know that if
the slaughterhouse is hidden from view, her existence is better than ours.
And the beasts of the forest and field and the fishes of the sea must know
that they have the better life, even if we drive them to extinction.
	So, the verdict is reached and the foreman reads that we are
guilty. There can be no other conclusion. We are foolish indeed to have
come along this way because it will surely bring an end to things - and not
the end that we are wanting. Science fiction is looming over us. Dark
clouds of thunder are filling the air with the sounds of war. The sabres
are rattling. Population pressure, pollution, hunger, disease, war, etc. -
all smell with the stink of death. And it is our own death that is fouling
the air. Can we stagger and stumble yet a little further, or has the end
been reached? Is the end at hand? Look about you. Examine your morality all
you good people.
	What kind of madness is this? Since the beginning of scholarly
thought, great and wise people have wondered about the purpose of the human
experiment. Much hard thinking has gone into whether there even is a
purpose to life, or whether we are merely careening randomly about the
universe for no particular reason. Certainly, we all have our own little
purposes in life - to put out the garbage or cut the grass - to find the
food to eat or the medicine to live. But it would be difficult to argue
that we have had any overarching purpose to being since our time began.
Rather, we have agonized over the wrongs we have committed while in the
process of committing more wrongs, and done right on only a few joyous
occasions. And the wrongs have grown progressively larger, while the rights
have become fewer and smaller. So that the darkness is gathering.

The Purpose:
	To help make the planet a better place for all living creatures.
Why? Why not! Or even because! What would be so wrong with worldwide
happiness and peace? What would possibly be wrong with sharing and
cooperating? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Treat all
fairly. Let no life be sacrificed for nothing. Help every tiny bit of life
reach its full and positive potential, so there is no happiness and peace
as long as even one small omoeba weeps for something better. How can you
people claim to want anything else but contentment for all? If you think
the way things are is A-okay, or even if you think we can make some small
changes and improve the product, then you are the one who is mad. And the
rest are sane, because they can see that all is lost, and has been since
the most meat went to the strongest hunter.
	No small change is required in this case. Indeed, there is the need
for wholesale change that will not come easily. In all likelihood, there
are dark days ahead trying to convince those who have that they have
entirely too much and that they must share. They will not share. All the
greed of the ages will be brought to bear to maintain the richness of the
rich and the poorness of the poor. It will be no mean feat to convince the
wealthy and the powerful that their day is at hand, and that they must give
it up for the betterment of all. They already think they are rich for the
betterment of all, and that their richness makes the world a better place.
They will hold to that belief even though all evidence point to the
contrary because they have believed it since the beginning of time - since
the most meat went to the strongest hunter.
	We must hope that there is some way to win them over - we must hope
that there has been some truth in evolution - that we are becoming somehow
better than we once were, and that we will suddenly see the folly of our
ways. And that folly has been bought and paid for. And therein lies the
problem and the crux of that very same problem.

A New Economy:

	Regardless whether we have ended up in such a mess as the result of
our systems of economy or human nature, there is a need for a new beginning
- a fresh start. The cause of our dysfunctional world no longer matters. In
fact, whether we survive as a species really doesn't matter. But we should
put that aside and think that perhaps our continued existence does indeed
matter - not too terribly much and to no one else but our mothers - but
matter nonetheless. And if we judge that to be the case, then it is time
for change. It is time to cast off what has held us firm since the
beginning of our age and strike out in a brave new direction, but one that
better suits the reality of the age we now find ourselves in. Only by
showing the resolve to forge out a new way of life for every individual bit
of humanity can we save ourselves, and, by saving ourselves, save the
planet and all life that dwells upon it.
	Because if we have achieved dominion over all other living things,
and if we are indeed masters of our known universe, then we deserve to be
known by those who come after as kind and gentle masters, willing to share
what we have for the betterment of all. We must reach out beyond our selves
and come to know why we are the chosen ones - why we have been blessed by
god or natural selection to be the pinnacle of life on this planet. Perhaps
it is our lot to ravage and destroy life, because that is a purpose in
itself. But how could it be that we have come this far, and struggled so
much, only to face an anonymous death among the stars?
	There must be the belief that there can somehow be more to life
than we have so far given it. Even if we are mean and base creatures that
have brought ruination to all, surely we must eventually reach a point
where we will realize that it is ourselves we destroy. Surely, we will come
to our collective senses before it is too late - if such is not already the
case. And how can we not see the universal truth - that god is life and
life is god and both are the sacred stuff of being. It is all that matters.
It is all that should matter.
	Life must replace wealth as the currency of the planet. We must
deal in life from now on. We must trade in souls, and not in stock. The
preservation of all life must become more important than saving for a rainy
day, or even for a rainy year. If even one small bit of life is placed in
jeopardy, we must rally to its cause. We must find out what is wrong and
strive to make it right, because all life is precious and we must work
tirelessly to make it better. If we loved one another the way we have loved
our money, there would be nothing beyond our reach. We would feed the
hungry, cure all disease and fly among the stars. Humanity would know no
bounds and might indeed achieve some part of a potential so far only seen
in our dreams. We could come to be the great and mighty creatures we once
thought we might be. Life could be wonderful for all, and not just the
precious few as it is in the here and now.
	As has been said before, we must turn our swords to ploughshares.
Our armies must become our peace corps, spreading truth and light out
through the universe, telling all about the gift of life and what it means
to be alive. We must make heaven on earth because it is our obligation, as
the known rulers of all the eye can see, to do so. Just because life isn't
fair, doesn't mean that each and every one of us shouldn't fight and
struggle with every fibre of our beings to make it so. And to make life
fair means that there can be no inequity. Because all are equal before
conception and all are equal after death, all must be equal during life.
And although some might choose to rule when others might not, all remain
equal before nature. And that is as it should be.
	No amount of wealth can save a life. It is fleeting. It comes and
goes with a whisper, and there is no telling what was said. We must honour
it for what it is - a wonderful gift that comes only once to each of us,
existing together but alone for a single moment in time, before its self is
snuffed out and goes to join with the great oneness of the universe. It
cannot be gotten back. Once it is gone, it is gone, and only comes to those
who remain in ever diminishing memories. Life is a wondrous occurence here
in this dark universe. Honour it as such. It is your only salvation.
	Rise up, oh you slaves and masters alike. Know what you are and
what you are capable of. Know that you are indeed made in god's image, and
that god is life and life is god, and that life is every one and every
thing rolled into one. We must make peace with our creator. We must be
ready to make something better of ourselves than we already are. That is
the challenge and the purpose. Think differently. That is also the
challenge and the purpose. Somewhere it is written to love thy neighbour.
Do it today in case tomorrow never comes. Life is today, not tomorrow.

	I have done what I can. These few pages don't seem like much, when
compared to the empire of evil and darkness that is currently spreading
across the earth. I don't want to discount the many individual acts of
kindness and goodness that are carried out by many individual people on our
planet - I simply want to point out that they are not enough. The world is
currently a miserable place for most of its inhabitants, either because
life puts unbearable pressure on them, or because they put unbearable
pressure on life. Either way, it's a crap shoot, when it should be
something incredibly beautiful, enjoyed and shared by all in somewhat equal
	We need to develop a whole new way of thinking as we continue our
journey on Spaceship Earth. The old rules, such as they are, were developed
in far different times, and no longer apply to humankind. There has been no
effort in a hundred years to suggest a new way of life for us. That is what
I hope to do with this short document. I want to suggest an economic system
where life, not wealth, is the chief commodity. Where any amount of wealth
can be spent to save even a single life because life is always more
important than wealth.
	I could go on, but why bother. If you've read this far, you've
gotten the idea. Spread the word. All life matters, regardless how big or
small. Think deep inside yourself to see the truth. Deny what I say and
deny that truth. Life is precious.
Humanist Manifesto II - the capacity for greatness

        All persons have the capacity for greatness and all persons have the chance to dwell within Eden. Yet few take advantage of either of these opportunities. Greatness can be defined as the capacity to make a positive change in the composition of the planet, whether physical or metaphysical - it matters not. Eden is defined as that place which exists in goodness and which is filled with goodness - and each of us chooses to be good or not.
        I have now served 50 years in this place and have come to the conclusion that almost nothing of importance has been accomplished. Lao Tzu decried the wheel for bringing us into conflict and I would decry electric current for shedding light on some, but leaving most in dark. I would decry every piece of modern technology that exists, and every piece of profound artwork and every scrap of science. For in 5,000 years, we have come nowhere when even one bit of life lives in suffering and misery. How can we not know this? How can we not see the goodness in life, especially when surrounded by such evil.
        I have tried all my life to be great. I am a writer by trade and I have tried mainly to use my writing to uplift and comfort others and it is my hope that this will help me achieve greatness. I will never know what I have accomplished or not accomplished in the overall scheme of things. Even if I were the best of the bestselling authors, I would not know my greatness and whether I had truly touched a single soul. But I go to my grave knowing that I've tried, even though I might fail. Most cannot make this claim. For most, it is the pettiness that matters most in life. Who owns this? I'm better than you.  I want what you have. Slogans to live by.
You must strive for greatness in everything you do, my friends. It is our only chance for success.
        While it is sometimes difficult to really know greatness, it is a certainty that wealth and power have little to do with it. The wealthy and the powerful have so far botched every attempt at the smooth operation of the planet. They deserve to be removed from their wealth and power because both should be things that are earned and our wealthy and powerful have earned nothing with their ineptness. They are a greedy and pernicious lot.
        I have a difficult time believing that there has been any planning in the development of the planet, and thus a hard time believing in any type of creator or godthing, so have come to the sorry conclusion that humanity is a random act in a random universe. We have just somehow spontaneously burst out of the not-even-nothingness that existed before the beginning of time. There is no logical explanation for it. There is no way to know how we came to be here. How could we have slithered up out of the mud but not remember that ignoble act? Surely, through all our religion and all our reincarnations and past life therapy and all that other gibberish, we would find the one legless, spiney worm that slimed its way onto that primordeal beach all those millenia ago.
        So, we are a random act and should celebrate our randomness and realize that in all the known universe, we are the only species that wantonly devours itself. In fact, we are alone in the known universe and we have a profound need to recognize this and get on with it. While I hope for it every day, it seems ever more unlikely that any alien or god will soon appear over the Washington Monument and make some sense out of our senseless lives. I hope against hope that some alien race will appear among us, stroking our consciousness and telling us it's going to be all right - that they didn't mean to leave us alone for so long with those evil beings in charge. I would even cheer on some fire and brimstone in this age if it were to give even a little meaning to the meaninglessness of life.
          If to celebrate our randomness means to know that we are alone and to get on with it, we should discover the meaning of life. Since the ancient Greeks and perhaps before them, great philosophers have struggled with the why of life. What is life's purpose? Why are we here? If there is nothing but randomness, there can not really be a purpose - indeed, we are a species without purpose from the beginning so that we have wandered aimlessly in the desert of reason with no real idea whether what we are doing is right or wrong - and surely, judging by the results, it must be wrong.
        Enter evolution. Surely there must be something to this evolution stuff, although I have heard some conclusive arguments to the contrary. My good friend, Sam Kinsman, would have argued that those same ancient Greeks represented the pinnacle of rational thought and that we've been downhill since then. And he could make a convincing argument and one that I have come back to again and again in my mind over the years since we parted. Who could argue that the cradle of all our great systems of government wasn't in ancient Greece? Surely, something for thinking about on an overcast day.
        But I choose to believe that we have indeed evolved as a species in the last several thousand years. There is somewhat less raping and pillaging among most of the civilized world in this day and age and although there is considerable economic barbarism among all peoples on the planet, I must believe we have advanced in some small degree since the night Troy fell to ruin.
        So, if all life on the planet is a random act of some great unknown and it has never had a predetermined purpose, but we are evolving and becoming somewhat more intelligent as a species, then there is a next logical step. Perhaps the time has arrived and we have reached the level of intelligence that is required for a species to have a purpose. Perhaps the time is finally right and we can indeed get on with it. Perhaps there would be less of a sense of meaningless and hopelessness, among all peoples of the world, but perhaps most importantly among the young, if there was some overarching purpose imposed on humanity as a species.
        Surely, we have accidently stumbled into our current purpose, which is the greedy and pernicious pursuit of wealth and power. And, indeed, there are those who would argue that man is even more mean and base than a wolf and that is why he is the only species who devours himself, and indeed, would devour the wolf if there was money to be made.
        So, what should this grand purpose be if not accumulation for the nation? What, indeed? Perhaps it is beneath our nose and perhaps it has been there all along. There is a belief that humanity has a great capacity for togetherness and cooperation when faced with great adversity. People have the ability to rise to tremendous heights when faced with a great challenge. A person who rescues a child from a burning building is left feeling exhilerated by the experience. They have saved a life - they have made a difference. They have risen above the mean baseness that life has become if only for a moment. They know, if only for an instant, what the purpose of life is. It is to improve life for all who share the planet.
There can be no other purpose. We all know it.
        Even the world's great religions recognize this fundamental reason for being. Treat your neighbour like yourself. Be kind to others. Feed the poor and hungry. Do not kill. And on and on. But few of us live those commandments. Most of us are caught in the whirlwind of life and struggle to pay the hydro bill and there is no room for noble purpose of any sort.
And we return to an economic system that debases the human spirit, enslaving most mortals in the service of others so there is no semblence of equality even within the races, let alone between them.
        We could perhaps argue that our economic system developed out of necessity and that is fine. It could be argued that we are who we are because of necessity. Because there was the necessity to survive as a species in a dark and hostile place. The concept of a glorious state of nature and the noble savage is most certainly balderdash and we know now that our distant ancestors fought for life and breath on a planet that tried for all it was worth to cast them off. We have perhaps needed to be pernicious and greedy and mean and selfish to have come this far. But the might of our technology and our triumph over the planet and all its other inhabitants have rendered that need obsolete. There is now a greater need - the need to work together and cooperate to solve some of the world's problems before they solve us.
        This cannot happen within the current economic system. It is a fundamentally corrupt system that has led to mass unhappiness, misery and suffering for most of our species. In actuality, the only passengers on Spaceship Earth who are content with their lives are those who remain oblivious to the plight of their fellow passengers - they live within a veil of dreams and see only what they want to see and are blind to the true state of affairs.
         I constantly hear that we live by our nature. That, indeed, we live constantly in the mythical state of nature. We are ruled by our nature and that there is no escape from this destiny. When I tell people that we should cast off the shackles of our nature and break free of the tyranny of our fate, they say it can't be done. And while I agree that at one point in our history it was an impossibility to break free of what we were, I cannot agree that we remain at that point. Indeed, if I can see the need for a new way of doing things that is more inclusive of all the people of the earth, then others should see it as well. I cannot be the only one. And yet I feel I am and that I always shall be.
        I struggle to convert the masses but it seems a daunting task. They cannot understand that they have been purchased and that they have no free will here in the present tense. Even the richest and most powerful of our species remain slaves to a system that denigrates and humiliates them and guarantees that they will spend all of their lifetimes mired in the muck with no chance of achieving any nobility of purpose. Indeed, what should be the purpose? Indeed, there can be only one. Each of us should strive for greatness. It remains the only way toward our salvation.
        How rich does one person need to be? Or should we wonder how poor one person needs to be? Because even as I throw off and make light of religion, I have come to recognize that there is a Christ and that his teachings are filled with great goodness and that it has been our inability to hear what they say that has been our downfall. It surely must be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. It is plainly said. They worship Christ but have not heard his message. They have listened much but heard nothing. Christ and Mohammad must sit in judgement and wonder at the sheer stupidity of the human race.
How could they get it so wrong? How indeed.
        Could all indeed be luck? Before we are born, none of us is asked the type of life we'd like to have. Would we like to be rich....or would we like to be poor. Would be like to be emotionally stable......or would we like to be a paranoid schizophrenic. Would we like to be born into an upper middle class family in Ohio.....or how about a mud hut in Africa of AIDS-infected parents. How much more clearly can I make this point? We are all victims of chance and no one succeeds or fails by their own ability or surely none would fail. Even the greatest captain of industry has succeeded only through random chance. He is clearly no better than any other. And while it might be true that he is smarter, more athletic, cool under pressure and has greater business sense than nearly all of his peers, he should realize that he has earned nothing in life. It has all been given to him. As it can all be taken away.
        There is no equality on the planet. It is misleading and cruel to try to make people believe that there is any hope of equality under current economic and political systems. Clearly, little Johnnie can't grow up to be president of the united states unless he's one very lucky little human. We need to see this and realize it and try to make it right. And surely there might always be rich and poor and powerful and not, but just as surely there do not need to be people who starve and are tortured and killed and live miserable existences and for whom life is mean, brutish and short. In our past state of nature, we were forced by conditions to be cruel and malicious creatures, but in our present surely we can see the wrongness in that, and if we can see it, why can't we make it right?
        Life is indeed not fair. But so what? Humanity, by its nature, should not fly. And yet it does. It has, in fact, achieved many things that were once thought impossible. And so I come back to this thought. Just because life isn't fair doesn't mean that each and every one of us shouldn't struggle to make it so with every fibre of our bodies. It is necessary. It is what must be done. We must all strive for greatness in what we do and by achieving greatness we must hope that we can achieve a noblity of character that can free us from our state of nature. We must be free and to be free we must change the way we live. Each of us has the potential for greatness and we must work harder to make it happen. Cast off your shackles and rejoice at your freedom.
        I watch the idle rich in our society in wonderment. They think they somehow deserve to be rich and powerful - that they have come into their present condition through their own intelligence or hard work. That they should have what they have. In reality, they have achieved nothing in 10,000 years other than to waste a position bestowed on them by a type of divine intervention. Not only have they not earned their position in life, I would argue that their position should be forfeit because of their lack of achievement over the course of human history. With the wealth and abundance on this planet, no person should starve or die needlessly.
        So, how to straighten a mess that is ages old. It will in all probability take some severe dislocation in our economy or our physical way of life to convince us of the need for change. I can write these words and you will read them and agree with the basic premise, but you do nothing and will not be motivated to action unless your very existence is threatened.
This is not the way it should be, but it is the way it is. As rational, reasoning creatures, we should be able to see a problem and work together to solve it. But we seem not to have this basic ability to think even though we suppose ourselves to be the pinnacle of evolution on this planet.
How can we feel we're so absolutely smart, when, in reality, we really are so absolutely stupid that words cannot describe the intensity of the stupidness. If you don't believe this to be true, look around you at the state of human affairs on the planet and marvel at your own stupidity.
Don't share your wealth and power willingly - wait 'til the revolutionaries wrench it from you and lead you to the guilotine. Your head will roll nicely about in a basket.
        So, what do you do with a mindlessly stupid species that seems intent on nothing but the destruction of itself and its own habitat?
Perhaps some day, an alien spaceship will appear over planet earth and ask a similar question. Perhaps the aliens will fear the day when we might lurch out into space and carry our warlike and avaricious nature into that realm and start meting out death and destruction and causing brutal inequity between those who have and those who have not throughout all of space. They should point a giant ray gun at the centre of our planet and blow it to bits thus protecting the entire universe from humanity and making it safe for others. Were I the alien, I would pull the trigger and make us go away. Any member of any other species on the planet would pull the trigger and make us go away. We are a bad bunch in the scheme of the universe. We have committed capital crimes against ourselves and our fellow life forms on Spaceship Earth and we deserve to be put to death. We deserve to die.
       Think about what I write - that's all I ask. I don't have the solutions and don't consider myself a great thinker - just someone who cares about life and our home. I have spent a long life trying to figure things out and although I've been mostly unsuccessful at coping with the system, I've come to the conclusion that my inability to cope means that I'm okay - I know right from wrong and good from evil. If I wandered aimlessly along in life, content only to live my own life with no concern for those I share the planet with, my soul would indeed be lost. I want things to be right. Imagine what it could be like. It could be Eden. And we could stay within it for always.


John Gardiner lives is Canada. He has published two short stories at this site before: True North and When I Was Crazy.


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