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Einstein’s Optimistic Paradox: Ostensible Efforts for Change and How to Overcome Them

December 1, 2012

Today’s world sees many problems–why not face them with optimism?

The following quotes lay foundation to discussion below:

“Everything is dominated by the cult of efficiency and of success and not by the value of things and men in relation to the moral ends of human society.”

“For looked at from a simple human point of view, moral conduct does not mean merely a stern demand to renounce some of the desired joys of life, but rather a sociable interest in a happier lot for all.”

“Look upon social problems as so many opportunities for joyous service towards a better life.”

~ Einstein from Out of My Later Years

So true are Einstein’s words of insight and wisdom into follies of the human condition. Granted that I have limited knowledge of circumstances historical fellows faced, it is within reason to state we are now facing social problems more numerous, more grave and grander in scope.

A boggling amount of initiatives offer opportunity for “joyous service towards a better life.” Why then am I, among many with university degrees currently seeking such opportunities, wanting to involve, left ferreting about without success? There in lies the paradox.

More social problems, more opportunities to serve towards a better life, in spite of scant opportunities within a struggling, yet seemingly wealthy, disproportionate economy.

This question summons answers worthy of more comprehensive debate than I will get into, though we will adventure into pertinent areas.

More and more of us uphold Einstein’s perception of a morally respectable individual within their society, their world–same thing, really; by acting within our locales we do indeed act within and for the better of a shared world–by initiating work towards betterment and solving matters of crisis and injustice from major to minor, yet issues grow increasingly daunting in the face of efforts, while problems continue to arise.

The problem is that masses wanting to serve positively towards bettering life are restricted, while those doing what’s morally right, following values based towards bettering human society and sharing “a sociable interest in a happier lot for all,” suffer from lower standing in a hierarchy of authoritarian power “dominated by the cult of efficiency and of success, not by the value of things and men in relation to the moral ends of human society.”

We’re talking about government, corporate elites, multinationals, politicians, global economics, education and media, to name a few. Those in power are not looking out for society’s interest as a whole; they fiendishly operate towards gross profits and industry goals, and in turn, themselves.

What results from the top’s villainous acts? Climate change, massively pungent inequality, both food scarcity and abundance of “food-like-substances,” as Michael Pollan refers to overly processed, chemically laden, health endangering products filling shelves in supermarkets and homes feeding a backwards health care system, citizens and graduates of market education without work, a world where strife occupies the days of millions both among the wealthy and in poor developing nations, where distribution of goods and services are grossly disproportioned locally and globally, manifest social disparity and growing discontent for a corrupt nation masqueraded by legality and operated by fear, to name a few areas.

These issues are real; one can say things are on a trajectory to worsen without clairvoyance.

Here in lies another paradox inherent in above listed misfortunes stemming from unprincipled, untrustworthy, imbalanced, venal authority: those in position to affect the gamut of pressing issues upon human civilization act haughty in power, disdainful to the moral imperative Einstein references and to those attempting to realize it.

Morally wrong elite who choose to strive to proselytize the populous through malarkey and deceit stigmatize the fight for betterment, justice and salvation in this world.

Credulity reigns among the masses, where those who believe a paradigm shift in status quo is necessary, both morally and for posterity, are seen as anomalous, as part of a ‘counter-culture.’

Regardless of stigma, ‘counter-culture’ and ‘alternative lifestyle’ is laying stakes along increasing territory, and although gaining ground, an auspicious peak remains untrodden–guarded.

The global economy is competitive and capitalism drives the world in which we live, therefore one cannot be blamed for seeking economic certainty in a world where money provides freedom and opportunity for not only a life of comfort through financial security, but also one with potential for higher influence.

But here, we fall victim to the current anatomy of society, where, for the majority, we either play by the rules of those who pay by serving towards the wealth’s interests or act as an abiding cog among the middle class, slaving to a salary, while maintaining a ruling class system running affairs amuck in order to survive.

There are other options, but the majority follows this trajectory; it is the path of least resistance; it is set for and expected of us–by many within society, social and familial milieu, leading to work that does not provide meaning and purpose.

More people should not have to work to live, but instead live to work.

Inherent in authoritative action, heedless undertakings are both made possible, hidden from and/or softened for society presenting them as if peccadillos.

Here I mean to illuminate not only the influence those managing the world economy wield among society, but also how the construct has come to naturally shephard media, press, and educational institutions to act accordingly, which in effect, leaves society following norms and expectations upheld by these institutions.

Evidently, moral imperative is lost within weeds. No matter how invidiously this construct relentlessly increases social and environmental problems, these very constructs are responsible for not only coaxing a populous into delirious servitude and support, but also for making the goals and dreams of betterment illusions within a grand scheme; they both create the problems necessitating positive initiative and block chances of success.

This, my fellows, is reason why I, among many, act with conduct considering “the moral ends of human society,” striving for a “sociable interest in a happier lot for all,” yet while fervent to find “opportunities for joyous service towards a better life,” am left adrift.

By no means do I claim victim or blame forces beyond control for yet unsuccessful career development.

We do choose our own path. We are responsible for our actions and ourselves. Yet no matter how independent, prodigious or free we become or wish to be, we remain confined, as free as a fish swimming in a tank.

Nevertheless, as discussed, groups and individuals are taking a stand and gaining ground in face of surmounting crises, deteriorating environment, raising injustice, unacceptable local and global disparities of wealth, food, agency and access to public services, scandalous authority, media absent of moral obligation or simply dimwitted and shepherded, and industry, education and organizational structures of the status quo leading us to follow what is expected, operate under pre-established norms of society and continue towards a wrought future.

Through moral initiative, individuals striving for betterment continue to find support, found organizations, businesses and spread a way of life, higher educational institutions are slowly incorporating more creative initiative in regards to a sustainable future, innovative technology is being wielded towards social and environmental ends; we are morphing.

The 1% maintains their stranglehold, but as collective efforts grow we begin breaking loose, and little by little flowing into one, slowly becoming mainstream.

It is within human nature to do as others do; we are social and convivial at heart, and for this reason efforts must amass. Once a critical point is reached, the stigma will break and morally defined ‘counter-culture’ lifestyles will become expected as the norm–expectations and norms drive society; we are animals, not too different than sheep–this is when we will begin seeing the paradigm shift.

Einstein’s words are dated, yet speak true to a universal human condition. The amounting woes he sees within his society birthed currently grown, glib and boorish powers that be, accelerating problems and increasing opportunity to fix them. And although currently rigged by paradox, current efforts are not in vain.

While many see conflict with transition of this scale, we have already begun setting up for success.

We are fixing flat tires and out taillights in a car with an engine confiscated by authority, but our efforts are not in vain; once we gather the resources, knowledge and numbers to redeem and install that engine, the rest of the groundwork will have been laid for a smooth ride.

If the ruling class supports solving amassing social and environmental problems rather than creating them while obstructing solutions, more available opportunities ‘for joyous service towards a better life’ will welcome those eager to participate.

Will Einstein’s insightful optimism break paradox? Will efforts to better the social and environmental woes of the world bestow upon hands of those seeking service towards a better world?

We can, and must, do more than hope.

Please share your thoughts.


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