The summer before I went to college, I was asked the question “what are you going to do to make the world a better place?”
I made my decision to become a teacher then. I thought that to educate was paramount, and by influencing a hundred students a year, I could influence untold thousands by the influence my students had on the people around them. But I’ve come to believe that making the world a better place is a full-time, whole-life activity. And there are a lot of things that can be done to make the world better.
Environmental things: reducing my waste, reducing my carbon footprint, reducing my consumption. Choosing to eat “local” foods when possible, taking the train or walking instead of driving, composting with redworms in the basement. Paying extra for wind energy. I try to make the better environmental choice whenever I have a choice and I know enough to make it. A lot of times, I can’t tell, but I figure it is better to buy domestic items rather than imported, organic items rather than conventional, and items with less packaging rather than more packaging. I’ve started taking my own bags to the grocery store, and most of the lightbulbs in our house are fluorescent.
Money things: giving to organizations that defend against discrimination, harassment and hate; paying my taxes so the government can use the money for some of the many good things government does (I don’t like spending money on war, but I do like S-CHIP); buying products from companies that pay living wages to workers who have a voice in how the company is run and who try to avoid damaging ecosystems. Investing in “socially responsible” funds and using Working Assets for my mobile and long distance phone company — they make donations to organizations that also try to make the world a better place.
If we paid more taxes in the US, we could have more money for the government to do things with and be less beholden to other countries. What could be done with tax money? I think I mentioned our crumbling infrastructure in an earlier post, but we could also give health insurance to the uninsured, fund research to finally TRULY develop viable fusion energy (no, we’ll have it in another 50 years…), educate our children better (I might argue about how we could do that in another post, later), or build new prisons designed for rehabilitation and not for just holding. I think these would make our world better, too.
If you don’t feel compelled to make the world a better place, I hope you at least try not to make it any worse!