I’ve been listening to two stellar podcasts lately: Planetary Radio and Are We Alone? Each time I listen to these shows, the scientist inside of me is rekindled, and I feel like society is taking a turn for the better because of the science happening on this planet and elsewhere in the universe.
After listening to Planetary Radio, I got to thinking (dangerous, I know) about what I am doing, and how it’s far from changing the world. I write this blog, work part-time as a web developer and write fiction in my spare time. Aside from being a father and a husband, is there anything that makes an impact on other people?
So here is the question: do you need to change the world in order to make a difference and stay happy?
It seems to me that 90% of the people in this country just don’t care about the rest of the world. Whether they’re using fossil fuels as if they’re a ever-replenishing natural resource, busy wasting time watching Reality TV, or just generally not giving a crap. Each of these things has no positive impact on the world, and generally those of us who fall into this category don’t care, or are blissfully unaware of their impact on the human race and the planet as a whole.
They go to work, each in their own car, clock in, waste time, clock out, come home and drink a beer while sitting in front of American Idol. This may be a fine life to live with plenty of internal happiness to be had, but each action has consequences outside of the realm of the individual.
Just as a butterfly flapping its wings in North America creates a sandstorm in the Sahara, watching mindless television can have a negative cumulative effect on our society as it exists today and the future of our society.
While contemplating this, I came to the conclusion that the people who make the most impact–the visionaries, scientists and philosophers–tend to be the outcasts of the dominate societies. Seen as sorcerers, heretics, and undesirables, they are socially rejected and to be feared by the “average” man. Maybe this actually leads to some of the great discoveries, giving the social outcasts more personal time to work on their craft. But the idea remains that the people who move the human race along tend to be years ahead of the society from which they are shunned.
This is very evident in today’s society. The fact that nearly two thirds of Americans 18 to 24 cannot locate Iraq on a map with the countries labeled points to the idea that education is not top priority amongst young people in America today.
This is very troubling. Very troubling indeed.
Judging by the most popular TV shows on the air today, our society cares less and less about science and the ever-changing world around us, and more about the popularity and antics of half-retarded people striving toward some unrealistic goal.
There are a few pseudo science-based shows in the list of the top broadcast TV shows, as well as 60 Minutes which has the potential to be educational. The fact is that CSI is NOT scientific, and caters to the average-to-lower end of the brain size spectrum. You can get as much science watching Ducktales for an hour.
The cable TV ratings are even worse:
I would not be surprised to hear that 90% of high school students don’t know the date of the first moon landing, or even the names of the three astronauts on that mission to our closest heavenly body.
What Can I Do To Change This Trend?
I cannot change the minds of the vast majority of Americans, but I do still hold one of the most valuable resources for the human race within my circle of influence: my son (and any future children).
Now, I’m not going to groom him to be some sort of savior of the human race, but the best thing I can do for him is to tell him the truth in all situations and attempt to breed an appreciation for science, the arts, and the planet. He may end up being just an average child, but that is exactly who we need to educate in order to atone for the mistakes we and previous generations have made.
Humans bypass the Natural Selection part of evolution, and as a consequence, the smartest, most well-fit individuals to lead the human race forward tend to reproduce less. Being a social outcast because of your intelligence can put a damper on spreading your genes.
If we don’t do something soon, and keep it up, Idiocracy isn’t far away. And that, my friends, is one of my greatest all-time fears.
Back To The Original Question
No, I don’t need to change the world in any significant way in order to keep myself happy. Just knowing that I am raising a level-headed potential contributor to society is enough to keep me happy.
But I still think about what I could have achieved had I taken the road of the scientist. What great things could I have accomplished, moving the human race forward to more heavenly situation? Maybe my procrastination is genetic. Maybe I am doomed to fail in anything I do as a result of some sort of cosmic joke.
I was given a few skills in my life, and here I am exercising one that comes very naturally to me. Maybe I’m not changing the world, but I hope that I am in fact getting a handful of people to think about what they are doing for the world.
Even if I don’t discover a planet inhabited by extraterrestrial life forms, derive a solution to the world’s diseases or even use less electricity to stop the small percentage of pollution that I am personally responsible for, I know in my heart that I can make a difference if only I put my mind to it.