What I really Want To See in my Lifetime

As Steve Jobs once said ” Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary”

Well let me start saying that I am a pragmatic person always dealing with the realm of the practical. So I am not going to wish away things like eradicating poverty or world peace during my lifetime cause this is unlikely to happen. What I’m rather shooting for is something that doesn’t sound unreasonable and which has a real potential of getting fixed. Yes, everyone wants to end poverty, war or corruption. But we have these tragedies for multiple reasons. For example, universal misunderstandings among different countries. Religions and nations are indeed one factor out of many that are responsible for wars. If we don’t eliminate those basic reasons, we shall expect results like wars and poverty.

So here are my aspirations.

  1. Smart Thinking: I’d like everybody to think of being smart as worthwhile. It’s not the only measure of value, nor is it a simple comparison that we can use to rank people from smartest to dumbest. But I’d like everybody to aspire to learn more than they know now and to have respect for those who know more than they do in some area, without it being a risk to their self-esteem. We as a society have set up too high standards of perfection and simply put most of them are highly unreasonable. Consequently we grow up believing that a person who has not studied in a premier league institute will grow up to be an unsuccessful person, that being skinny is beautiful and although chubbiness may be acceptable as a child it most certainly will not be when you are grown up. I wish people would stop putting themselves down over issues which they have no control over and be more accepting and at the very least find happiness without letting others decide what is more acceptable for them.
  1. Abolishment of Crony Capitalism. I believe that global crony capitalism is one of the biggest threats to humanity in the years ahead as it is already writing off the human race. To be perfectly candid, I am afraid the way the world is organized today under a few powerful and immensely greedy private interests, the technology will do nothing for humanity.  It is a fact that international capitalism has raised greed to a determinant force in world history. Unregulated greed-driven capitalism is destroying the jobs prospects of First World labor and the ability of Third World countries, whose agricultures have been turned into export monocultures serving the global crony capitalists, to feed themselves. When the crunch comes, those capitalists will let the “other” humanity starve. Hence, I’d like to see a real abolishment or at least dampening of “crony capitalism” . Crony Capitalism has evolved to the point where the most powerful economic interests, interests that control the government itself, have no sense of obligation to the country in which their business entities are registered. Except for nuclear weapons, international capitalism is the greatest threat humanity has ever faced.
  1. Risk Awareness: I’d like for people to start thinking clearly about what risks are. In America we are terrified of a crime rate that has been falling for decades. We devote resources to curing “popular” diseases at the expense of ones that do more damage. We’ve spent trillions to prevent terrorist attacks whose damage would be measured in, at most, billions. I’m not saying to end any of our vigilance, just to reconsider where it belongs.
  1. Health Promotion: I’d like to promote health and well being whenever and wherever possible to aid the prevention of debilitating illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, etc. Educate young and old people about healthy eating habits whenever and wherever possible; the earliest the better.
  1. Individualization of Education: I’d like to allow the individualization of education and improve teacher to student ratios. Pair classes in different countries together as much as possible through Skype to promote cross cultural learning and also aid language acquisition. Teach economics, smart consumer strategies, environmental awareness, computer programming, and app development as young as possible in as many places as possible. Encourage kids to think creatively and use their imaginations whenever and wherever possible, in every class. Encourage  problem solving, creative problem solving, and collaborative problem solving. Get rid of education systems geared to 19th century factory mentality. Requirements for teachers and teaching credentials geared to that mentality rather than to the 21st century digital world.
  1. Best Use of everyone’s time: I’d like to find something for everybody to do. We’re reaching a unique era in human history where basic needs can be met with a tiny fraction of the population, and there is a sense in which everybody else is surplus. Some find occupation in “higher” needs and wants, from the arts to cleaning pools, but there are those who lack skills that other people want. These people don’t simply vanish. I neither want to pay them to sit around, nor do I want to force them into some 21st century equivalent of workhouses. I’d love to magic some kind of meaningful work into everybody’s life. If everybody earned a living wage many of problems of our society would be much less severe. Many fewer people would live in poverty, there would be less crime and our economies would both produce more efficiently and consume more suitably.
  1. Reinventing the political process: I’d like to crack down on corruption and reforming politics so that politicians focus more on their constituents and less on re election and lap dancing the big corporations at fundraisers. Requiring constant up-to-date audits on public funds, “misplaced” money, usually material amounts, from the Federal Reserve Bank, and third party government contractors.  Have all government office-holders to be public servants first and politicians second, third, or fourth. Politics in many places in the world has grown stagnant and hyper partisanship is becoming more common. We need some kind of system to reshuffle the deck every 10-20 years. Maybe that should be in the form of lifetime term limits for being in politics. Persons can only hold office for a total of 20 years in their lifetime. This would continually inject new ideas and remove the old guard that tends to be too set in their ways and stifling innovation and change. After their 20 year tenure they can still serve an advisory or functional role in government but cannot hold an elected seat. This still gives them opportunities to work in the public sector infrastructure as heads of departments or divisions or to move on to private pursuits. On the same note, if you can convince people to vote for you, you can also convince them with a degree under your belt. Being strident is not a way to run a country or improve it. What would a person without a basic degree know about the need for education? And how can a country run without it?
  1. Religion Equality: The whole different religion/caste/race is absurd to me. People should be people. They should be judged on the choices they make, the way they live and treat others, not on what family they were born in or the religion they are affiliated with. On the same note, I’d like to do away with all tax exemptions and credits for religion. Religion is big business selling a shoddy product and should be taxed and regulated as such. The money given to religions could be put to much better use elsewhere.
  1. Losing the Tribe affiliation: I’d like for people to stop needing their tribe to win by making other tribes lose. Measure your success by your own values, not by being ahead of somebody else. I’m immensely tired of having people torture reality to make themselves feel better. End cross cultural taboos and promote religious and cultural tolerance and understanding if you want to see real positive change in this world we all share.
  1. Better Allocation of Resources: Last but not least, efficiency is a huge problem. We need to be more efficient in our use of resources. This is a huge issue that covers everything from top to bottom in our modern societies. I could write an entire multi page answer on this issue alone. I will try to briefly touch on the concepts. Being more efficient means implementing as many of these as possible. Governments can work out the details and legislation to make them mandatory. Renewable energy resources are for example a very practical way forward. We may need non renewable resources to fill in for the gaps in solar, ocean, biofuel, and wind but they should be the minority. The more we use the technology the more the technology will improve and the cheaper it will become. Renewable resources have the ability to bring low infrastructure power to locations that are too rural to justify the cost of huge traditional installations. Given all of the above there should be reliable power worldwide. Environmental Protection is another case in point. The reason we need to be concerned with climate change is by the time we can prove that it is manmade and affecting the survival on our planet it will already be too late. I really do not care if you believe climate change is manmade or even if you believe humans are causing it or not, we can all agree that we don’t like seeing huge factories belching out thick black smoke and dumping chemicals into our waters right? We can all agree that we would like to protect those beautiful natural places in the world and preserve the habitats of nature. For the sake of discussion even if humans were not involved in climate change – though they are – the steps we can take to protect our environment have secondary uses in keeping our environment clean and healthy for all of humanity. We could be doing so much better here.

I would like to conclude by quoting a great saying by Mahatma Ghandi: “You must be the change, you wish to see in the world”. Without any change in our personality, attitude and way of doing things and at the same time asking world to change to please our self is just useless.

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Written by

Ziad K. Abdelnour, Wall Street financier, trader and author is President & CEO of Blackhawk Partners, Inc., a private family office that backs accomplished operating executives in growing their businesses both organically and through acquisitions and trades physical commodities – mostly oil derivatives – throughout the world.