How We Can Change Society to Fix Ourselves

So, society has failed us.

It sounds dramatic, and perhaps it is a little. But it is true that our governments have failed us and society is crumbling around us. The world is run to the tune of corporations and money, and the people in it are just cogs in the machine.

Maybe, it has always been the case. Maybe now, with the abundance of information available to us, we have collectively woken up to the realisation that our lives have been shaped to maximise profit and to keep us tired and forced to work.

Should it not be the case that society is shaped to the will of the people, rather than to the whims of corporations?

We are currently living our lives as employees to countries/companies that have been in business for hundreds of years. The root of our issues is that the systems that control us simply have not changed enough to cater to the people. As we have moved from monarchies to modern societies, society has been set up to keep those not at the top, in line.

The reason? Well, perhaps it is a lack of imagination. Or perhaps it is a lack of being able to change the system from within, and even more likely; perhaps those who control the system do not want to lose their grip on power.

I have always been confused as to why countries did not want to be the best possible place in the world. Why would they not want to be so good, that they attract the best people from across the globe? Why do they not want to give their people the best possible lives?

Building a Society to Cater to the People

That is not to say that a hypothetical society would simply remove the need for money, nor would I be naïve enough to suggest that it do so. Whilst I believe it would be fun to completely rip up the foundations of how we live our lives, the reality is that meaningful change can happen easily, and with practical and simple solutions.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

The needs at the bottom of the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals can attend to the needs higher up. This culminates in what Maslow has termed “self-actualisation”. He stated that human motivation is based on people seeking fulfilment and change through personal growth. Self-actualised people are those who were fulfilled and doing all that they were capable.

Maslow referred to self-actualisation as:

‘to the person’s desire for self-fulfilment, namely, to the tendency for him to become actualized in what he is potential.’

The specific form that these needs will take will vary greatly from person to person. In one individual it may take the form of the desire to be an ideal mother, in another it may be expressed athletically, and in another, it may be expressed in painting pictures or in inventions

Discussion on self-actualisation is a huge topic, but for the sake of this article, we can think of it as the peak experience of what humans should strive for to live a fulfilled life.

The issue, according to Maslow’s hierarchy, is that one cannot adequately attend to the higher needs if those in the lower tiers are not satisfied.

As we can see from the hierarchy above, this can be simplified as saying that one requires that their basic needs are seen to first, before they can see to their psychological needs, and so on.

One needs water, food, and warmth before they can look to satisfying their needs of prestige and feeling of accomplishment.

Society’s Role in Catering to these Needs

With inflation, rising house prices, stagnant wages, and stagnant minimum wages, it is ever increasingly common that it is impossible for an individual to be able to afford to fulfil their own basic needs, let alone afford their own property so as to feel safe and secure.

People are spending their entire working lives fighting to ascend past the basic needs tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It is not difficult to see, therefore, why there are increasing levels of depression and despair amongst the general population.

Society is set up to keep you in the bottom two tiers. You may find that you can occasionally make the jump up a tier — maybe you were allowed a long weekend that allowed you to spend some time with a loved one; maybe your employer gave you a pat on the back or maybe even a small bonus.

But don’t let the temporary relief fool you. Society is rigged to keep you fighting for your lives.

If people were allowed the time and energy to move towards the top of Maslow’s hierarchy, we would awaken the realisation that the system is rigged against us. Having our basic needs met means that we have more time and energy to learn and become educated. It allows us to spend time, not only with our friends and families, but with ourselves; being able to really, truly listen to what makes us tick, and find out how we can make the world a better place.

The issue, for those controlling these systems, is that making the world a better place means the abolishment of the chains and systems that shroud our lives in a fog of doubt, worry, and corporate greed. Would your perfect world be filled with corporate advertising? Would it focus on shareholder dividends, over the health and well-being of employees? Society is set up as it is because it suits those that control the system. That is why we need a society to be moulded and shaped to the needs of the people.

A system created by the people is a system that helps the people.

Photo by Daniel Thiele on Unsplash

What Can Be Done

This is why universal basic income works.

By giving every single adult citizen a lump sum, it allows them to cover their most basic needs. This culminates in happier, more satisfied individuals, which allows them to spend more time and energy on shaping their own lives.

This results in more people creating small businesses by allowing them to make a living doing what they truly desire to do. This means a healthier economy and happier people.

But why should we stop there?

Water

This is also taking into the fact that the £15.7bn figure is at commercial, third party prices. What would the cost be if the government, and societies themselves, were in control of the water supply?

Housing

Could governments create sustainable, cheap, and small, accommodation to be made available to every citizen upon leaving home? This would come with a large initial investment, but the long-term benefits would be tremendous.

And, whilst the idea itself seems irrational and impossible — it is, in fact, just a revamp of social housing/council homes, just done with modern thinking, and longevity in mind.

Housing, whether it be in small parks, or in apartments can be made to be efficient, and sustainable.

As referred to above, the popularity of tiny homes has shown us that we do not need 4-bedroom, huge houses, to have a home where we can feel safe and secure. Homes, designed with small floor space, do have to be clever with their design, but that is entirely possible.

These “complexes” can be designed with sustainability in mind. Not only is this better for the environment, but also better for the bank balance.

Homes can be designed and built with solar panels, wind turbines, and systems that collect and recycle water — further lowering the cost of heating, lighting, and water going forward.

A less radical approach could be to really force tiny homes into the mainstream but limiting the size of plots and creating limitations on the price of land.

Ideas

What is important is the philosophy of building a society around the needs of people.

The first step in doing so is to acknowledge that the current systems in place are detrimental to the health of individuals. The ideas that enable society to be moulded to the needs of the people come later and will involve the collective creativity and imagination of all of us (and certainly requires the thinking of people far more intelligent than myself).

So, society has failed us, but that is not the end of the story. Whilst they are people with ideas, and whilst people are unhappy with their lives, and the systems that control us, there is always hope that things can change. And in order to be part of that change, it is integral to not to take the current way of living as rules that are not allowed to change. The world around us was designed and created by people less clever than us, but these systems just stuck around. Who is to say, that your idea for how to make the world a better place, won’t be another idea that manages to stick around?

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Sharing my thoughts on fitness, life, and society.

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