I spend what often seems like an inordinate amount of time thinking about the world’s problems. But our problems have grown so numerous and so large that it has become impossible not to think about them. They are everywhere I turn: financial trickery, global warming, pollution, resource depletion, species extinction, greed, war, racism, governmental surveillance and control, dishonest and corrupt politicians, dishonest media, and so forth. But all these problems are really just symptoms—symptoms of the only problem this world really has: the egotism of homo sapiens. Take that one away and the world runs perfectly.
Throughout my life I’ve come across people who actually believe in egotism. They think they see deeper than others because of their “strong” egos. They believe that anybody who isn’t looking out for himself first is naive about the facts of life. It’s a big delusion. They have no depth. Egotists, because they don’t see past themselves, have no depth. People talk about someone having a “healthy ego,” by which they mean, of course, a strong ego. But a strong or a big ego is not a healthy ego. A healthy ego is one that is able to see beyond its own desires. A healthy ego understands that there are other people living in this world and that they have needs equal to one’s own.
Egotism creates a vast array of delusions. One of the most common delusions we live under is that competition creates a better world. I’m constantly reading that our schools need to turn out students who can compete in the global marketplace. No one ever challenges this kind of thinking. But all that competition does is create stronger egos. It is extremely difficult to rein in the ego. One has to make a constant effort and living competitively undermines that. What we really need to learn is cooperation, to create a world where every living being has a place to fulfill the laws of its own being, and to do that without sucking the juice out of anybody else.
We’re not anywhere close to this, of course. We’re still on the path to hell, and things are going to get worse before they get better. I don’t know how bad it has to get before we begin to pursue a smarter, healthier direction. When I bring this up with others they often tell me that nothing can change it. It’s just going to keep going in this same direction. I don’t think so. I think that’s actually impossible. One of these days I’m going to have to address the hope that I believe there is. It’s one small thread of hope. But that one thread is stronger than all the others. And it is real.