Good question.
Karen Kilbane

I like to think the world can be better still. I think it is human nature to always want to ‘improve’ things, even when we can’t hope to fully understand the problem nor possibly conceive all the ramifications to changes we make, or propose to make. The wider the issue, the less we can understand; the narrower we focus a change, the less we can predict the outcome outside of that focus.

When we talk of “fixing the world’s problems” our issue becomes so wide and vast that we cannot possibly understand the full extent of the problem we address let alone find unanimity in whether something is a problem. If we are unable to get unanimous agreement that something is a problem, yet feel strongly that it needs addressing, we have choices:

  1. Try educating everyone (in the world) in the same way, so that they all see the world the same way and are able to agree on what is a problem and what is not;
  2. Give up trying to fix anything because not everyone agrees;
  3. Get on with making changes that – we hope – will fix the problem.

Trying to educate everyone the same way has a beautiful ring to it but only if we teach them all my way. No doubt that is how many other people think, so since we can’t even agree how and what to teach eight billion people, I think we can put that idea aside.

Giving up is easy but it changes nothing, yet humans will change things, even if not always for the best: it is in our restless nature to want to ‘fix’. So that won’t work.

If we ignore that some people don’t see an issue as a problem, or if they do, they think it needs fixing some other way, then at least we can get on and make the changes. We override their views. We become – to them – an authoritarian power meddling in the world’s affairs. And we are right back to where we came in..

Wanting systems to be

more conducive to mental health, equality, and equitable and efficient community and political organizations

is fine in the face of it but there is a concept tucked in there that has been tried and failed. It failed, I suggest, because people don’t want to be equal. As someone said to me today when I gently prodded his socialist ideologies with his intent to buy a lottery ticket, “Well, OK, I don’t mind everyone else being equal but I want to win a load of money and make all my problems go away.”

People don’t want to be equal. They want things to generally be fair (though one definition of maturity is to know that life just isn’t fair) and certainly expect their government to encourage equal opportunity in so far as it is practicable (it isn’t fully possible by everyone’s definition). But it is not human nature to be interested in being equal. Nor is it humanly possible to attain: we all have different characteristics, physical and mental abilities and have different things that lead us to contentment.

I think promoting sound mental health is a great idea. It is something that my own country is poor at, which I think may hark back to last century having ten years of total warfare: that has an ongoing effect far greater than many assume. There is massive anxiety in our nation, way more now than even during times when our towns were being bombed by enemy planes, or our citizens regularly maimed and killed by terrorist explosions. Our streets are the safest they have been in over a century, yet many women report being scared to walk them even in company: it is a state of paranoia whipped up by ideologically-driven groups and fed by a media that uses sensationalism to sell its products. So, yes, let us look to improve people’s mental states and well-being .. just don't expect to have everyone agree that it is a problem and be prepared to get authoritarian about the changes needed.