You’ve probably heard this story. A man was relaxing by the sea shore one morning. A passing wealthy man asks him why he was just sitting idle. “I am enjoying the day, now that I’m done with fishing for today,” he replied.
“Why don’t you go catch more fish?” the wealthy man asks.
“And why would I do that? I have enough for now.”
“You could make more money if you caught more fish. Then you could buy another boat. And then you would be able to catch more fish and end up with a large number of boats. Then you’d be wealthy.”
“And then what?” asked the fisherman.
“Then you would be able to have a relaxed life, free from worries.”
Inequality is baked into the nature of reality. There’s no escaping it anywhere or anytime. Cosmology holds that the universe began in a state of perfect equality but then following the period of rapid expansion (inflation), inequality appeared in the form of clusters of matter (stars and galaxies) and empty space. The primary force that caused that clumping, physicists contend, was gravity. The weakest of all the four forces, gravity molded the universe into the form it has: clumps and voids.
Equality would have implied a structureless universe. Physicists believe that in the far distant future, the universe will end in a heat death. Then everything will be back to the undifferentiated state of pure equality.
On a much smaller scale and in a different domain, we find the same story of increasing inequality. The first single-celled organisms were all the same. Multicellular organisms have greater diversity. The variety of life forms on earth kept increasing through biological evolution.
Diversity and equality are rival properties. The more you have of the one, the less you have of the other. Naturally this is true of the human world since, being part of the universe, we are not exempt from the fundamental laws of the universe.
Imagine, if you would, a world in which people lived in perfect harmony with nature, in which the air was clean and the water pure, in which there were no threat of rising ocean levels or man-made climate change, in which there were no weapons of mass destruction, in which multinational mega corporations were not devastating the natural world seeking profit. A world in which thousands of animal species were not driven to extinction every year through human action.
Imagine the kind of world that John Lennon sang about in his appropriately titled popular song “Imagine”, much beloved of the hippy generation. Imagine no countries … nothing to kill or die for … imagine all the people living life in peace … imagine no possessions. An idyllic world of peace and prosperity. Continue reading “Imagine”
Isaac Asimov (1920 -1992) is arguably one of the greatest writers in the English language of the 20th century CE. He was prolific: “so prolific and diverse in his writing that his books span all major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification except for category 100, philosophy and psychology,” says the wiki.
He lived to write and admitted that “if my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.” In his 1990 memoires, he wrote, “I have had a good life and I have accomplished all I wanted to, and more than I had a right to expect I would.” Few people are as lucky as he was in that he got to do what he loved most to do, and did it exceedingly well. The graph below shows that in 1989, he published around 44 books — that’s nearly one book a week. Continue reading “Change”