Almost always, “save the world” initiatives are aimed somewhere far from the developed world. Whatever you want to call it: the third world, or some developing nation; we regard it as THE area that needs saving: warring factions in Syria, censorship in China, extortion in Mexico, hunger in Ghana, rape in India, and corruption in Russia. These are real and serious problems in the world and we’re right to seek ways to improve the greater good of people there.
But the developed world is full of many of its own problems, often orthogonal to those of the less developed world:
- Diabetes and cancer are the diseases of developed world, and throw us into an inefficient healthcare system that’s incentivised to be expensive and bankrupt patients.
- Our food system isn’t helping – the most convenient and least expensive food tends to very processed. Moreover, information on healthful eating is muddled by vested interests.
- Many people find themselves in unnatural settings for daily work, where they spend most of their waking hours: long and stressful commutes, uninspiring work, hierarchical and restrictive work structures that cause the same angst and disorders as hierarchical regimes, and a lack of sunlight, fresh air, and movement. This “life” causes many physical and mental ailments including obesity and a widespread reduction in well being.
- A consumerist mindset occupies our minds, ceaselessly telling us we need more to be happy, adding clutter to our lives and waste in our landfills.
- We find ourselves endlessly busy and distant (physically and mentally) from things that bring true happiness: sleep, family, friends, love, community, and general relaxing and reflection.
The crux of this is that people in the developed world might not be very happy in their day to day lives. By some measures we might be less happy than those living in the developing world
These problems are nothing compared to warfare and hunger, but it’s critical that we make strides to address these issues. For one, most of world is becoming more developed. They crave to be more modern. They want to be more technologically advanced and be a part of the greater world economy. They want success and prosperity and growth. And they rightfully should. But as the developing world inherits our advancement, they inherit our problems. And these would be new problems for them – the next five billion – and big problems for the planet as a whole. So if we’re to “save the world”, let’s go after the problems in front of us, and not just the ones half a world away.
Human social and societal behavior
- A strong personal and professional research interest
- I’ve worked with faculty at Stony Brook University in developing a theory of evolution of religion, which reached into in-group / out-group behavior and a theory of culture. While this work is yet to be published, it is referenced in the book “Death from a Distance and the Birth of a Humane Universe: Human Evolution, Behavior, History, and Your Future”.
- I was a teaching assistant for the undergraduate and graduate (classroom and online) course on Social Coercion Theory
- I’m a former practitioner of Kyokushin karate and served as an instructor for 5 years
- I presently practice capoeira, an afro-brazilian martial art and have done so for the past 7 years
- I’m an avid roller blader, as a daily commuter and as a safety marshall (5 years) for the inline skating community
- I enjoy many outdoor activities including hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, and skiing
- I’ve volunteered at St. Francis and Bellevue Hospitals
- I was trained and certified as a NYS EMT and briefly volunteered with the Glen Oaks Volunteer Ambulance Corps
- I was a pre-med student in a college and applied to medical schools, but decided against the career
- A strong personal interest and I do a lot of reading, research, and personal experimenting