Today a friend of mine posed an interesting question to his friends on Facebook: If you could change just one thing to make the world a better place, what would you change?
Though it’s a simple question – and we all know the problems of the world are immensely complicated and multifaceted - it got me thinking. What would I change? Why?
For me the answer was a little pageanty, “more love and tolerance for all people”. Duh. But how do you make people more loving and tolerant? I think that ignorance is probably the most dangerous force on the planet. People fear what they don’t understand, and what people fear they seek to destroy. So, I feel like that improved universal secular education is the best way to help people become more tolerant.
In school I learned very little about other cultures. My history and science was very America-centric. “Sure, there are these other countries and cultures, and they maybe contributed something, but what really matters is them in relation to the US.” This was pretty much the outline for most of the education I received in both public and private schools.
In countries were the press is supposed to be free I feel like they could probably be doing a better job of educating the public about the cultures of people in the news. But then again, if you learn about the world and the wonderful variety of people in it, you can understand the news a little better.
If more people were allowed a decent, propaganda-free education I think you’d have more women in power because men would begin to see them as more than just a walking uterus. Religious extremism might all but vanish because once people are able to read, think, and learn for themselves it’s much more difficult for them to be swept up into the current of a charismatic leader. Better educated nations also have stronger economies, less hungry people, less infighting, and so on.
When people are uninformed, ignorant, and unaware they’re more easily scared and thus, more easily manipulated into serving causes that may be traditionally against their values and better judgement. In terms of democracy, if you have a large percentage of the population that is easily swayed to vote for someone or something because they play to the emotions, ignorance, and fear of the masses you have a dangerous country on your hands.
Obviously, education is no silver bullet. I don’t have much experience in development, or political science, I’m just thinking out-loud here.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Agree? Disagree? If you could change just one thing to make the world a better place, what would it be? Why?