Last week, a comment was made about some sort of national service being reinstated in the United States. One novel that encapsulates a lot of that thought is Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. Starship Troopers gets a lot of flack, yes, but a good part of the book deals with the commitment to a common cause. Having a society that thinks that having people commit to a worthwhile and useful common cause, either by serving in uniform, serving as a volunteer crossing guard, or helping run a library does seem prudent. Helping run a library isn’t being on the front lines; very few folks die in the book stacks. Yet some sort of common vision does seem to be required in order to make sure things stay on track. Nation-states may go the way of the dodo, as large systems naturally collapse, but community service and community thinking, as many cli-fi and other near-future fiction stories have opined, isn’t a bad thing at all, and will always be the ultimate currency.
A colleague this week made an interesting comment/observation. The idea may be old, but the phrase that was used was new to me; “The reason corporations are so corporate,” they said, was that “they have replaced trust with rules.” Likewise, it attempts to replace real community with things like stock options. An interesting observation, and something that makes a lot of sense.
- What level of commitment do you need to feel like you are serving the common good? What is the level of commitment that everyone needs to make a society work? Can you have a measure of such devotion and worldview?
- How do you get people to become community minded, when they aren’t?
- How does community-mindedness fall by the wayside? When a system allows money, rather than trust to be its main currency?
- Just as we have cycles of history, with empires rising and falling, we’ve got cycles of trust, where in some time periods, people don’t trust outsiders, and in others, they do a bit more. Is this just due to resource issues and the programming of our Flatland monkey brains?