Here is an intriguing question: What do you think Humanity’s top 3 priorities should be?
If world leaders paused for a moment to debate that question and its implications, it might help streamline decision-making and better determine the course of our future. I should note that by “world leaders” I am not referring to politicians. I am referring to scientists and thought leaders who, at minimum, must pass an IQ test to earn their position.
How great would it be to hear this question debated by the likes of Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, Leonard Piekoff, Ron Paul (there’s one obligatory politician), Seth Godin, and Richard Branson (a random list off the top of my head, but I would love to see that panel take on nearly any important question…)?
Thought leaders and Mensa members aside, here is my humble list of priorities for the Human Race:
1. Colonize another planet. To me, there is nothing that should supersede this priority, even given so many other problems to address in the world (hunger, disease, and equality to name a few). Though other problems are important and pressing, our unified action to get off this rock and learn to live on another planet is our best, most promising hope for survival as a species. Given some of the more imminent catastrophic dangers (nuclear war, global warming, an asteroid strike, super-viruses, etc…), colonizing a second Earth, at minimum, doubles our chances of survival. In the U.S., the space program has been cut to less than 2 percent of the national budget–a travesty–it should be the top priority for Humanity and the primary consideration when it comes to the allocation of funds.
2. End religion. Getting to another planet should be our first, foremost priority and has actual potential to be realized in the relatively near future. Being done with religion is loftier, but only slightly less important. Religion, I think, is the core of most wrong-thinking and evil-doing in the world (in point of fact, every major war in human history was started by religious zealots; how many wars have been started by atheists?). Religion is filled with ludicrous claims (like there is an old invisible man who lives in the sky and watches everything you do so he can punish you accordingly without ever telling you why or when he might strike). Religion has ambiguous morality (“Thou shalt not kill” but thou should “Take an eye for an eye”) and false hope (if there was life after death, what would be the point of dying? If there was life after death, there would be no distinction; it would just be called “life”). Religion also encourages subservience and removes Man’s power, influence, and responsibility over his own life and the destiny of the world. I think if people were instead taught to think clearly and critically, science would be a thousand years or more further along and humanity’s first priority (get to another planet and double our chances for survival) would probably be solved.
3. Protect the Environment. For real. Until we solve the top priority, this is the only Earth we have. Real scientific education, without political or religious agendas and sensationalized media (maybe that’s our fourth priority–end media sensationalism and bias?), should be the norm instead of the exception. Having (almost) every citizen informed about the unequivocal benefits of a sustainable economy, understand what food is and how it works, and comprehend the basic structure and execution of the agriculture business can have a tremendous impact on how we live in the world and determine its fate. I firmly believe nobody (outside of religious zealots and store-bought politicians) wants to destroy the world, it is just that most people do not understand how to save the world. Not that everybody should turn vegan, wear hemp clothing, and drive a Prius, but everybody should understand the impact that doing things like that can have.
There are many huge issues facing mankind and some of them are immediately important (hunger, poverty, inequality, disaster relief are examples that come to mind). They should be addressed, and immediately. Still, there are priorities that will determine the fate of the entire race, perhaps even the fate of the universe (we almost certainly are not the only form of intelligent life in the universe, but if we are… how much more precious and important does that make our continued survival? There would be no chance for other life if we perished). These priorities need to be rallied around and vocalized louder than the others. It is at our peril that we ignore them or delay addressing them any longer.
I am grateful for people much smarter than I who are tackling these big issues and if you are in agreement with any one of those top three priorities, I encourage you to start a conversation about it, learn more, and take action–any action, even if it is as small as donating $50 to NASA, or having 3 meatless meals each week, or compacting your trash and using reusable shopping bags.
For further reading, or just to hear from some really eloquent leaders in these areas, check out:
Stephen Hawking – perhaps the greatest mind on the planet
Richard Dawkins – one of the world’s leading skeptics and non-theists
Michael Pollan – popular author and speaker when it comes to food and culture (don’t worry; he’s not vegan)
Did I miss anything? What do you think the greatest problem facing humanity is?