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Platform for a pro-future society

Preface

This piece describes the principles that a hypothetical "pro-future" organization/party might hold. Alternatively, it is simply the expression of some ideas. It is more of a definition of a paradigm than a concrete set of suggestions for bettering the world, but perhaps that is just as well, as the latter must be vigorously discussed between people and may also vary greatly among localities with differing characteristics.

Some of the ideas in this piece do not follow from the given definition of pro-future but, rather, from my interpretation of it. It is possible to be pro-future and yet to disagree with some of the ideas presented here. For instance, it is possible for a person to believe that it is important to concern oneself with future generations and simultaneously believe that shortages of resources can be compensated for by a free market and that explicitly focusing on sustainability will, therefore, not be particularly helpful to future generations and might do unnecessary harm by artificially reducing the amount of available food and other resources. These are issues that a group would need to grapple with upon choosing to call itself pro-future.

How do you define pro-future?

To be pro-future is to consider the future ramifications of any action we take. It is to promote open discussion of the possible future ramifications of decisions before making them. At its core, this means living sustainably and being able to answer the question of how future generations might live. Recognizing that many civilizations have collapsed and that this has been partly the result of depletion of resources, it explicitly rejects reliance on the vague idea that future generations will think of a way to handle the consequences of our actions even though we cannot.

Interconnectedness

We hold the interconnectedness of things as fundamental when making decisions. We recognize that an action that we take can lead to other actions which can, in turn, lead to other actions and so on. Thus, by a single action, we can start a chain reaction of positive events or a chain reaction of negative events. When we perform an action, it affects the consciousness of those around us such that they may be more likely to consider taking a similar action. We thus reject the notion that an action that one of us takes as an individual will not make a difference.

Intent

We hold that the intent of our actions will affect their end result. Furthermore, actions are more likely than not to lead to other actions with similar intent. For instance, if a person installs solar panels on a house with the intent of reducing co's environmental footprint, then another person may notice the solar panels and gain inspiration to do the same.

Dualism

We hold that dualist thinking is a constraint that we would do well to challenge where we see it. When considering that actions lead to further actions, it becomes difficult to assume that one can win by allowing another to lose, since the loser may take a negative action in return. Thus, what seems to be a win-lose scenario may in reality be a lose-lose scenario. On the other hand, there may be an action that we are not considering which would cause both parties to win, especially when considering the possible ramifications of the action.

Nonviolence

Violence has destructive consequences. We hold that it is, at best, a sub-optimal way of solving a dispute. Our taking a violent action may lead to others being more likely to take negative, possibly violent, action against us. Taking this into account, we hold that the use of violence is usually counter-productive. Violence leads to dualistic thinking in which both sides lose but one side loses more than the other side. The side that loses less is not necessarily of greater morality but only of greater strength physically. Also, the side that loses less in the short term may suffer severe consequences resulting from the violence which could lead to much greater losses in the long term. Thus, solving a dispute violently does not make a moral statement that may lead to a similar event not taking place in the future.

The current situation of some nations possessing nuclear weapons while other nations lack them cannot last. If countries with nuclear weapons wish for other countries not to have them, then they must disarm. Not doing so reinforces the notion that nuclear weapons are valuable things to be had and makes it more likely that other nations will want them.

The United States spends a large portion of its budget on military expenditures. [give an amount] It also consumes far more resources than the Earth can replenish and has many people living in poverty. Thus, the current situation is not working well, and other alternatives should be explored. If the military budget could be reduced, then money would be freed for these other purposes. We, therefore, support discussion of alternate methods of maintaining security without requiring that such a large budget be devoted to military expenditures. The Department of Peace as proposed by Rep. Dennis Kucinich would be a huge step in this direction if implemented as he would wish it to be. The U.S. having a large military leads other countries to perceive that they also need a large military, leading to a vicious cycle of military spending crowding out other types of needed spending.

We support research and discussion of nonviolent methods of conflict resolution and mutual understanding. If we seek to understand those around us in our personal lives, then we will also be inclined to understand those of other nations with whom we have a dispute. Practicing nonviolent conflict resolution in our personal lives will, similarly, help us to see a way to peacefully solve international conflicts.

overpopulation

The amount of people who can live sustainably in an area is not fixed. It is dependent on our technological know-how and the available resources. It is possible to temporarily inflate the number of people who can be supported by harvesting resources at a rate faster than the rate at which they are renewed. However, to do this is unwise because it is unclear what will be done in the future when the resources are depleted. Consequently, we hold that we should not increase our population where we are not living sustainably or would be prevented from doing so with more people at our current level of resources and technical know-how.

Toward the end of stabilizing our population, we support measures that reduce population growth while maximizing individual freedom. Recognizing that societies which value women as equal to men have had a tendency to peacefully lower their birth rates, we support gender equality and universal access to education. Contraception should be available to those who want it, as it aids families in doing what they feel best for them. However, we oppose draconian methods of population control such as the forced abortions that have been reported in China, as neglecting concern for human rights, in addition to being reprehensible in itself, may lead to a backlash and a long-term undermining of the cause being promoted and is thus counterproductive.

Throughout the developed world, fertility has decreased to the point where it is often below replacement levels. This has created challenges with an aging population that is living longer and needs special care. However, this problem cannot be solved in the long term by growing the population in perpetuity, as we will, sooner or later, deplete our resources or reach a limit beyond which food production would no longer increase commensurately with the population. Therefore, we must learn to live in an environment where age distribution may be largely flat rather than concentrated at the lower end. As we are now in a situation not seen before, it may be that our ways of doing things are now sub-optimal and should change. To that end, we support an open discussion of our values and customs so that we can best learn to live in the situation in which we find ourselves.

Diversity

Over the millennia, groups of people have benefited incalculably from the knowledge and tools created by others. In other cases, groups of people have suffered where they might not have had they learned from others around them. To this end, we hold that all people have something to learn and something to teach. We support cultural exchange between people and believe that seeking diversity in our groups is not simply a moral imperative but an opportunity to gain different perspectives. To this end, we support education being made available to all people regardless of race, sex, class, or disability. Educating a diverse group of people together has the advantage of allowing different perspectives to be shared with students learning from each other.

Debt

It is dangerous to spend money that one does not have. To do this is to rely on having the money in the future that one does not have in the present. Going into debt may be counterproductive even if it is done for the purpose of providing services for the common good, as it will require that money in the future be used to pay interest on the debt, diverting money that could have been used for the services obtained by going into debt. The total amount of money available for these services is thus reduced. Cutting taxes is also dangerous when it would result in a larger deficit. It is often argued that tax cuts are justified since they will lead to greater economic growth, but, where there is a deficit, the burden is on those making that argument to provide evidence for it being the case.

Debt reinforces inequality and divisions between people. People who lack the money for something that they need or want wind up giving money to people who already have surplus money in exchange for the lent money. Where personal debt has become institutionalized, we support methods to change the circumstances that contribute to a person's feeling that co needs to go into debt. However, rental of property creates divisions similar to those created by debt, as people who have little money wind up paying money to people who already have considerably more. Thus, the customary system of paying rent is not a solution to the divisions created by debt.

Environment

Protecting the environment is essential to ensure that there will be a livable world for future generations. When we take positive actions in this direction, we are setting a good example to inspire our children and grandchildren and others around us. We consider the Earth and all of its inhabitants to be as one living organism, as there are many similarities between a living organism and the Earth as a whole. Organisms are composed of many groups of cells that must act in coordination with each other for the organism to survive. Similarly, people must act in coordination with each other and the planet in order to survive. A person taking resources without considering other people and future generations would be like a cell of an organism concentrating on its own survival without regard to the organism as a whole. Therefore, we support methods to make each other aware of and accountable for the affects that our actions have on others and on future generations.

Conclusion

Humanity has undergone extremely rapid change over the last century and now faces serious challenges of resource depletion, overpopulation, and economic inequality. People have made serious decisions without being present to their future consequences, and the results are in the challenges we now face. We are now beginning to experience the effects of our actions. As our fate becomes apparent, we may decide that the root causes of our situation lie in our way of being and that we need a new paradigm to govern the way we make decisions and relate to each other. This piece describes my vision of what such a paradigm might look like, and I hope that it serves to spawn some discussion and debate around the issue of how best to navigate around the challenges we face.

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Comments

I especially agree with the comments on over population and environment.

Greetings

Hi there!
Just wanted to say that it was nice to meet you at BSCB this past weekend. Sorry life got away from me and couldn't really chat. It's hard in those situations. But I added you to my friends list and feel free to add m. I have to say that I'm not as introspective as you, but hopefully I won't bore you to tears! Take care and look forward to reading!

Re: Greetings

Yeah, I was only at BSCB for most of Saturday. It was good to meet you, though. Anyway, I've put aside any phobia I might have had that would have prevented me from adding you.

Re: Greetings

Glad you put aside your phobias. I'd hate to be the cause of an expensive therapist and deprogramming!

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July 2014

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