What should we do about our depression, anxiety and loneliness?
Now that a climate change-denying, disability-mocking, sexist, racist liar has been elected the most powerful person on Earth, we should probably spend the next four years fighting political fires. But what about after that?
As I wrote about here, Christopher Lasch thought we should establish systems of education, government and life in general that empower people, since small accomplishments achieved in local communities would involve the fostering of human connections and result in the satisfaction of jobs well done.
Which sounds great.
But it does rely on there being a sufficient number of appropriately difficult challenges for us to solve, forever.
Curing all diseases, alleviating all poverty and ending all wars and oppression are pretty decent goals that we're already trying hard as a species to achieve. Well, we're trying a little bit, anyway. But is it possible for all of us to make meaningful contributions to those tasks? I doubt it.
Preventing harmful climate change is probably the next-most pressing issue, and we can certainly all do our bit there, but can we do much as local communities? Again, I don't see it. Likewise preventing biodiversity loss.
Besides, while we certainly should be trying to repair the damage we've wrought on the planet, merely undoing our previous crimes feels like a waste of human potential. Think of it this way: if all you can say on your deathbed is that you did no harm, will that feel like a life well lived? You may as well have stayed in bed the whole time.
We need something else.
I don't know yet.
The best ideas I can come up with are a Star Trek-like interplanetary policing role and some kind of galactic artwork of the sort Fry carries out for Leela in an episode of Futurama:
But the first of those looks like a bit of a stretch given that we've proved to be pretty shit at even terrestrial policing, and the second would probably be an even more hideous misuse of our powers than any of the fuckups we've yet managed here on Earth (I'm reminded of a moment in one of the Red Dwarf books when a space crew rearranges the stars into an advert for Pepsi)... Oh, and they're both technologically impossible, too.
So I'm stumped for now. But it seems worth thinking about.