Okay, so I'm shameless. I ripped this from the epitaph on Jenny Sparks' tomb in Authority #13. Even so, it's something I try to live my life to. I shall readily admit to being an idealist. I don't want what's out there, I want what's out there to be better. I don't want to change the world in any major way. I just want it so that people can look back and see that the world they are in is better than it was.

Pretentious? Probably. But this is one way through which I can say "Though I May Not Have Lived A Virtuous Life, At Least I Can Say "I've lived"". For actively trying to make the world better, even in a tiny way, is better than not trying at all.

How can anyone try to improve the world? It's a personal thing. You can't just look at somebody else and copy their ideas to improve anything, as odds-on it has already been tried. So the ideal of improving the world goes hand in hand with original thought. The thoughts of someone that does not just follow blindly. The thoughts of someone willing to make a change.

So it's a circular arguement. But it's a circular process. You can't just sit back once you have attempted to make one change. You have to try for something else. You can never stop trying, as that is akin to giving up. And giving up is the worst possible thing you can do.

How to make a better world?

Build better people.

Choose a path that builds people up, that loves them unconditionally but at the same time teaches them self discipline, so that they can govern themselves regardless of law.

Make every encounter with a human as positive and fair as possible.

Be a prime example of what it means to be "good", not necessarily to follow the rules of religion or the rules of state, because many of those are unfair or stupid.

Do not have children until you have mastered patience and compassion, you will need copious amounts of both if you don't want to damage their fragile selves.

When each person is strong enough in themselves to overcome selfishness, greed and the drive to aquire and exert unnecessary power, then we will have a better world.
This reminds me of an article I saw in Adbusters Magazine, issue 26. Or, more specifically, a part of that article (The New Activism by Kelle Lasn, which I believe is in turn an excerpt from his (her?) book Culture Jam: The Uncooling of America(tm)):

The generation born between 1965 and 1980 -- the so-called "Malaise Generation" -- seems to have pretty much given up hope that anything good will come of this place called earth.
. . .
The Malaise Generation understands that they -- we -- are all dupes of the consumer culture. They understand. They just aren't willing to do anything about it. And that's where I lose patience with them; that's when an irrepressible anger wells up. "Life sucks." Okay, so fix a small corner of it. When so much is at stake, how can you be so complacent?(emphasis mine)

Of course, I cut large chunks out so that hopefully what remains will fall under fair use laws; but I think what remains sums it up fairly well. Reading that passage was a much-needed kick in the pants for me at that time in my life, and it's something I've tried to live by ever since. I don't often succeed, but at least I can say I tried.
I make the assumption that when people in the past were conceptualizing ideas for the future (inventions, mainly), they were likely looking at how their ideas would revolutionaize at least one part of society. They may not have even thought far enough ahead as to how their contributions will have a chain reaction through other areas.

I got one of those feeling from watching (dare I say it) Peggy Sue Got Married, where a woman, after her class of 1960 reunion is sent back in time to her teenage years in high school. I saw her mother, making dinner. I saw mothers making clothes, never getting to sit down at meals because they were always up tending to others. And then I thought about all those new inventions people came up with to make domenstic life easier around that time, all the gadgets and hooey. And then I thought about how dual income households came to be the norm 20 years later.

It's hard to be as idealistic now not so much that world is not worth saving or improving, but because there is so little of it left that is uncharted. We are at a point where instead of coming up with brand new ideas, we are simply working out the kinks of the old ones, upgrading. I wouldn't say this is sad or depressing, but more something that was bound to happen. While technology is boundless in what it can do, the ways in which it is done, I would say are finite. I believe that it is this understanding that is causing most of the malaise.

And so, we do simplify our wants. We are going to be prone to seeking simpler satisfaction in our lives. That is how we evolve. When one avenue seems exhausted, we take another route. That route will also become overdone, and likely when that happens the old avenue will seem fresh by comparison. To be happy as humans is to realize that we can and do go from one extreme to the other in our search for newness when everyone knows there is nothing new under the sun. To accept it and move on.

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