It has been a fascinating thought to me — is human the only specie who thinks about leaving a better world for their children? This perception, or statement, has been widely used in many talks, conversations, lectures, debates, and propaganda, that by doing so and so, we are to leave our children a better world. Or, often presented in the opposite way, that by not doing so and so, we are leaving them with a less world than ours, and shouldn't this give us, the current generation, the moms and dads, a strong incentive to change!?
This is how NPR's discussion of climate change has presented itself. On one hand, I have been talking to Noah about becoming a vegetarian. By eating less meat (here I'm also blindly taking someone else's statement as truth ← individually by eating less meat, we could make our contribution to help the climate change catestrophe), we are doing our share to help a change. But on the other, I was thinking to myself, why leaving them with a better world is taken as an indisputable, wish!? Don't we always argue that my definition of being better is not necessarily the same as theirs? Don't all parent generation do this by imposing a superior knowledge that "I know what is good for you", and gets back fired when their children grow up, and the young generation simply ignores such advice or concern, and turns out to be a life, sometimes better, sometimes worse, than previous generation has predicted? Then, if we learn from the parental lesson by treating kids as more of a peer than a brain-less walking body, shouldn't we also apply the same principle in those grand topics, such as climate change, that the children generation will, either live in a world which is just different, or figure out a new way of living that cope with the new environment, or even better (or worse) that their definition of a good life becomes a different version from ours? ← what we value as being good, such as nature, specie diversity, blue sky, clean air, wouldn't it be that case that they will start to like indoor, AC-ed environment, artificial lights, virtual reality, and so on (don't these sound familiar already!?).
I understand this picture sounds really disturbing. But I am not too sure that what I wish to leave them is actually good. If borrowing from personal experience of love and relationship, I would even argue that being good is not the point — being what they want is important. Hasn't there been enough cases we all know that being the good guy gets you nowhere, but giving her what she wants (if you are lucky to know, or smart enough to figure it out) is what makes her happy. Isn't that the whole point of "leaving them a better world" is implying that a "better world" will make them happy!?
But how do we know!? or do we know? If I take this to an extreme, how do we know that they don't love, war!? or death!? or bullying!? Aren't we again giving them a world that conforms with our principle and preference, while depriving them an opportunity to develop organically of their own!?
But this can't be right. I do think there is a consistent principle of good versus bad — clean air, good; smogs, bad. Safe environment, good; discrimination, bad.... I'm speaking from my own education and perception. I fully understand that Noah's generation will have variation of many of these what I hold as true or dear. But I still believe there are things which are bad, regardless which generation is in prime. War, for one, is bad. Human who are caught in it is miserable, outright miserable.
What about ants? what's their good life, or better life? do they care their children as we do? or they care them in a different way? This is the same logic one debates about history — what we judge of history is at the point of view of ours. Rolling back to their time, do they still appear the same way!? and since going back in time is impossible, then how can we reconstruct the "back then" faithfully? Wouldn't there be unlimited number of factors that it is mathematically impossible to do so!? If we know about butterfly effect, then unless we roll back in time, the entire analysis of history and their lessons learned would be nothing but a subjective opinion by the author, wouldn't it!?
I don't know. The more I think about human society, about what is good, what is right, the more I start to question whether there is a truth that is irrelevant from our interpretation, or everything is just a human imagination. Take the dollar for example. We all know that paper money is nothing but, a piece of paper. But then, is gold really better than this paper!? Not really. It has not so called intrinsic value either. It is just a material, a carrier, that many people agrees upon, that's all. It is always someone's dream that you will find gold everywhere on Mars or somewhere, where it was treated like dirt, but beings over there values, human waste, as their "gold"!
This is the same theme over and over and over. When US conquered the West, native Indians couldn't care less about gold mine in Black Hill. Yet, gold is values by everyone else. So there you go, people poured in to take over the territory which were protected by law (at the time) as Indian reservation. You can call them driven by greed. I think the essence of greed, is just, imagination!! So what they fought over essentially was a thing that lived in nothing but imagination of a society (in our words, the modern society, but really, is modern == more imagination!?), while yours (in this case the local Indians) did not share the same imagination. But then, their lives were destroyed because of it. How ugly! Honestly, I totally believe that such imagination is both the core attribute of human, and the core cause of everything terrible happening to human. In this sense, I would even question whether propaganda is really such an evil!? Isn't it just another form of, imagination!?
Strength is always the weakness. The more creative we become, the more we are encouraging imagination, the more wonders we will see and implement, then, the more nasty, ugly, terrible traits human will develop, will demonstrate, will endure.
Is this good? bad? better? or worse?
— by Feng Xia