Each year at Christmas the members of my family (and my family-in-law) give each other presents. Each year I have no idea what material things to ask, so most of the time my wife makes a list for me with stuff she thinks I might need. Each year I jokingly ask for world peace. Each year, this is unfortunately not wrapped up in a fancy looking package underneath the Christmas tree.
It is of course something I still wish for. And as a matter of fact, I have some suggestions in how this could be realized. Most of them are open doors, but somehow I felt the need to list them just because it is Christmas.
1) Inclusion is always better than exclusion. When you exclude people or groups of people, they radicalize and do monstrous things. When you include people, even when you are very different, there is a bigger chance to gain mutual knowledge and understanding, and in the process you will probably soften the edgy parts of one another.
2) Make an informed choice on everything. This means when you buy something, make sure you understand what you buy and what the consequences are for people and planet. When you elect someone, make sure you understand what she/he proposes to do to solve problems. When you read media, make sure you understand the agenda of that media.
3) Long term thinking is more fruitful than short term thinking. This applies to important things such as the application of technology, the usage of resources, policy decisions and the maintenance of relations.
4) When a good result conflicts with a good principle, most of the time the principle should prevail. For instance, better not torture, even when you can save more people as a result of what the victim will tell you. Or, do not kill one sick patient to gain valuable organs to save more than one of your other patients.
5) A lot of things we do or use are not right nor wrong, it is the way we use them that makes it right or wrong.
– Monetary units are per definition a mean to an end, not a goal in itself. Money in itself is not right nor wrong, but the goal you seek to realize through spending the money is. This also means that the argument that something is profitable in itself adds no value in any discussion and should be avoided at all costs.
– Religion usually preaches valuable principles such as respect, love and peace. As a matter of fact, the ‘golden rule’ (treat the other the way wou want to be treated) is preached in each religion, and is the first maxim of Kant’s categorical imperative. It is a human choice to use religion as a justification for opposite goals.
– The ability to wield power is neutral. It is a human choice to use power in a fruitful way, or abuse entrusted power for private gain.
6) Curiosity and love is to be chosen above all else, and in particular above hatred, doubt and distrust.
7) Read a goddamn book instead of checking the news through social media.
Well, just stating the obvious, but perhaps the obvious is just what we need.
Happy Christmas, and may peace prevail!