What significant problem would you like to see solved in your lifetime?
It is so easy to go down the “Miss America” route for such a sweeping question like this. It is, of course, tempting to say that above all else, world hunger should be solved. Perhaps the end of global poverty would be a perfect choice for this closer to utopian future. Sexism, racism, ableism, ageism, homophobia, body shaming, obesity rates, animal abuse, domestic abuse, homelessness, global warming, etc. are all excellent options on what should be solved in my lifetime. The world does have more than its fair share of problems, all of which cannot be solved in the finite time I have been given.
No matter how appealing those choices may be, none are my answer. In my opinion, the one significant problem that should be solved in my lifetime is hatred. The root of all problems is not footed in a lack of intelligence or goods, but a lack of kindness. We live in a world today where a stranger holding open a door for you is considered a treat, not an expectation. We expect to have enough money to drive our cars but not enough to refrain from complaining about the price of the prehistoric remains you’re pumping into your gas can. If we order food and it is too cold, we do not appreciate that we have food at all but spitefully send it back and demand a refund. One who lives comfortably in a middle class family is hailed as a saint for donating any money to charity and those who have more money and fame than sense are treated as angels from above for even thinking of throwing away their money.
We have become a cruel, hateful people who would rather debate over the color of one’s skin or sexual preference than help those in need. If we could stop fighting with one another, stop the wars waged with guns and innocent lives, we could change one of those “Miss America” questions. People far too often talk about how much they want to help the homeless yet refuse every beggar’s cup. Some will talk about how much they want to help feed the hungry over an overflowing plate of food they didn’t have to prepare themselves. We immediately discredit ourselves, reassuring our egos that we could not help so we should not help but someone else will; that is the one thing we’re sure of. Then, when people don’t help, we blame them, shaming them for their use of money and time while we refuse to sacrifice our own.
In the end, I would like to die someday, hopefully far off in the future, in a kinder world. I want my great grandchildren to be treated equally, neither by the color of their skin nor who they choose to marry. I hope it’s a world where nationalities are put aside and we create wonderful things and solve thousands of problems in unity, not separation. With kindness, we will become not one uniform mass of humanity, but a vibrant and varied unified humanity. As the great Gene Roddenberry said; “If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life’s exciting variety, not something to fear.” I want to have lived and died in a world where kindness triumphed and hatefulness was thrown away as we reached out and touched the stars.