In my posts here, I have referred to “The Human Project” at times. You may have been thinking or may be thinking, “‘The Human Project’? What is Andy talking about?” Helloooo, Andy!
When I was in college at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa long, long ago, I wrote a paper entitled “The Human Project.” It may have been a paper for an American Studies course I was taking. It was earnest, idealistic, and shamelessly optimistic for the most part. This may have been back in 1979 or 1980 or so; unfortunately, the paper is long gone. As you are reading, please remember that I wrote the paper quite a while ago!
My narrator was a candidate for the American Presidency speaking about his campaign platform and about what he will do if he is elected.
His platform is stirring, innovative, inclusive, and he has a vision for how “The Human Project” can transform the planet and benefit all peoples [I’d add “and all creatures” now – also!]. His platform is the first genuinely global platform as if national policies should benefit all peoples and the planet. (Wow, what a concept!).
His platform planks included ending environmental degradation and destruction and mitigating damage already done to the environment, accelerated switching to alternative energy sources, eradicating disease and ending hunger around the planet, a national and international moratorium on new weapons development and nuclear weapons testing, and peaceful exploration and development of space for the human species.
[Now, I would add a call for re-engineering corporations so that corporations are not treated as persons, and so that corporations have multi-faceted bottom line considerations].
He acknowledges the beauty of the planet, the beauty of all places he had visited over his lifetime and the varying types of beauty of lands and waters around the world. However, he ends on a musical note by stating that he believes that the U.S. should have a new national anthem. He asks the audience to join him in singing the song he will propose as the new anthem. He begins:
“O beautiful for spacious skies, / For amber waves of grain, /
For purple mountain majesties / Above the fruited plain! /
America! America!” – “America the Beautiful”). [Words by Katharine Lee Bates].
In a postscript, I wrote that after he formulates his campaign platform, he begins his campaign in earnest. He ends up being assassinated during the campaign. I guess that’s where the optimism ended. Was my narrator killed because he proposed a new anthem? No. He was killed because what he was proposing threatened so many (and too many) established interests.
Why does optimism, earnestness, and idealism fade for people over time? We become accustomed to the “way things are.” We get “beat down by life.” Why, if attitude is a key to everything? Why, if we are truly able to choose how we will react to setbacks?
If we want to know why things are a certain way or why things are done a certain way, one way to examine these is to figure out who benefits from the way things “are.” “We’ve always done things that way” should be a red flag statement!
If we change nothing, who benefits by continuation of the status quo?
In the human made environment, everything here – before us – began as an idea.
That is why I remain an optimist.
Now, will you join me in signing on as an advocate for “The Human Project”?