Tuesday, July 11, 2017

If I Ruled the World ....

Occasionally a line from a popular song takes on a life of its own and lingers long after the song's writers and singers are long gone  The song I'm thinking of right now appeared in the sixties and is entitled "If I Ruled the World."  The song has been sung by many big names, and has enjoyed success beyond the writers' wildest dreams.  maybe you know the song (the lyrics appear below).  The song was popular when I was a boy and, like many of the songs of our childhood, did much to shape the gray matter between my ears.

The song, of course, is purely subjective.  What if other people weren't particularly warmed by the phenomenon of spring?  What if other people weren't happy with the idea of ... being happy?  What if other people didn't like the idea of being free?

You get the idea.  My view of a perfect world might be someone else's idea of hell.

So if I were in a position where I could "make the world a better place," what would give me the right to decide what "better" actually means?  Surely some things we could quickly agree upon: feed the hungry; end the wars; be more environmentally aware.  Sure.  But beyond those, what exactly is it that makes for a better world?  I mean, some people are, believe or not, quite happy being at war.  Dumping cigarette butts and candy wrappers out of the open car windows seem to be a delight for some of the planet's citizens.

It gets deeper.  Many of us are happy to be on the receiving end of charity, but not so quick to dish it out.  Many people are happy to live off the fruit of the labors of others — "You go to work ... I'm going fishing."

The world we live in has legitimate needs, clearly.  But on a very basic level, people have needs too.  We all need food, clothing and shelter.  But we aren't just animals; we have greater needs.  We need a purpose.  We need hope.  If we allow ourselves to think about it, we see that we have vision, on all kinds of levels, from our youngest days to our last.  Many of us go into the grave when we're out of time, not when we're out of ideas and plans.  This is what makes us human and alive.  This is what makes us different from the cat or the dog lazing in the sun.  We are set on this corner of the universe as caretakers, or better said — care-GIVERS.

Here's an idea that could easily be argued against: the duty of man is to care for his or herself, his fellow man, every creature on the planet, and, dare I say it, the very world that gives him or her any existence at all.  We are all made from the same stardust, consuming the same starlight, drinking the same Hydrogen and Oxygen and breathing the same air and all that it contains.  All of us are floating in this boat adrift on a vast cosmos with no obvious or apparent compass (could develop that thought, not right now though).

Make your own list, but here's mine, partially:

• As soon as possible, educate people regarding our physiology—what makes us work and how to keep things going.

• Educate people regarding the biology, ecology and mechanics of the natural world around us.

• Teach people how to produce for their own needs and a little bit extra.

• Teach people the mechanics of the celestial world above us and of which we are a part.

• Encourage people to acknowledge the idea that a Being with vast intelligence and creative ability has been responsible for the existence of everything that drifts into the range of our senses.

• Help people realize that the random world (the one we live in — between the very big and the very small) does not always work in our favor: the weather is out of control; there are geological problems; atmospheric problems; occasionally large rocks from "out there" drift hurriedly into our world and cause devastation, the evidence of which is scattered across the surface of the earth.

Someone says, "Who's going to teach them religion?"  Hmmm, there's a tricky question.  By religion, you mean, a framework of doctrines regarding the Being mentioned above.  Honestly, I don't know how to include religious or philosophic ideas into the nuts-and-bolts world we live in.  Religion involves conviction.  Conviction is difficult, if not impossible, to teach in a classroom.  Conviction settles into the seat of our being, the seat that gets us out of bed in the morning, that trundles us off to work in the city day after day, that marches us off to war and to a battle that might not be won.  Conviction enables the martyr to sing amid the flames that will snuff out his or her mortal life.  Conviction is different from staring into the eyes of inevitability.  Conviction drags the boxer off the canvass in the eleventh round and sends him to victory in the twelfth.  Conviction pulls the tennis player off his seat to win the match in the closing games of the fifth set.  Champions "believe," but that belief cannot be taught in the classroom or during practice; belief and conviction cause their owners to see something that has not yet appeared to them.  Religion is tricky, because its pupils can be abused by its teachers.

Suppose I rule the world and someone has a different ideal than mine?  What if convictions and beliefs other than my own are suggested and espoused?  I'm in charge.  I'm the ruler.  What am I going to do with these dissidents threatening my perfect world?

Very quickly we realize that being the one in the Big Chair is a very scary notion; a role that Man is perhaps ill equipped to play.

Check out the song lyrics:

If I ruled the world
Every day would be the first day of spring
Every heart would have a new song to sing
And we'd sing of the joy every morning would bring

If I ruled the world
Every man would be as free as a bird
Every voice would be a voice to be heard
Take my word we would treasure each day that occurred

My world would be a beautiful place
Where we would weave such wonderful dreams
My world would wear a smile on its face
Like the man in the moon has when the moon beams

If I ruled the world
Every man would say the world was his friend
There'd be happiness that no man could end
No my friend, not if I ruled the world

Every head would be held up high
There'd be sunshine in everyone's sky
If the day ever dawned when I ruled the world

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