The Good Life?

We are constantly told all of the things we should do to live a ‘good’ life. We should eat quinoa, do yoga, avoid fast food restaurants, adopt kittens, be spontaneous… It’s all very nice. But I’m not interested in most of those things. If you want to be happy, you have to figure that out for yourself. What I’m interested in are facts. There’s no room for emotional reasoning here. I won’t be writing about how to live a ‘good’ life or what the ‘right’ thing to do is; I will present here a list of goals and then seek out the best ways to achieve those goals. It will be based on empirical evidence and rational thought.

We all want to live a good life. We want to do the right thing, and most of the time we think what we’re doing is the right thing. The trouble is that there are many ideas on what the right thing to do is, and they are often contradictory. All too often we attribute these contradictory ideas with malevolent motives; just look at politics and how hyperbolic the rhetoric can get. So, whenever I am addressing an issue I will establish as many facts as I possibly can in an impartial manner and then draw my own conclusions. My hope is that my opinion will almost be redundant and that you will be able to assess the facts yourself and come to your own conclusions. These may differ from mine and if they do, I would be very eager to hear your reasoning, just send me an email.

There are so many different opinions on issues like fossil fuel exploration, transport, dairy farming and agriculture in general, batteries used in electric cars, off-cuts of meat used in fast-food meals, wind farms, photovoltaic cells, concrete, plastic… I could go on and on. The reason for these differing viewpoints is that we all have our own set of values (or lack thereof), ideologies, allegiances, and circumstances that determine how we see things. I hope that with the increase in communication that modern technology affords us and the wealth of information at our fingertips that we will come to understand each other better. We may even change our own viewpoint because of it. Writing my regular posts on here is a way I can contribute to that discussion.

My own set of values I shall set down now so that you can understand how I will be approaching such controversial topics. I very much place people at the top of my priority list. I believe we should try and ensure everyone has access to equal opportunities and healthy lifestyles. I believe anthropogenic climate change is a huge issue that needs urgent attention. I believe pollution is the introduction of harmful material that has no further use to people into an environment because of human activity and that we should minimise this. Chasing the concept of “growth” is something I believe is not a feasible goal in a resource based economy simply for the fact that we have a finite amount of resources.

While I place humans at the top of my priority list, I believe we should respect all forms of life and always consider how our constant expansion of civilisation will affect all living things. However, I am not anti-civilisation. I believe it has allowed humans to exercise their intelligence in a truly remarkable way. It has led to magnificent feats of discovery and innovation but also had many unintended (but not unpredicted) consequences. We should mitigate these and avoid them from happening as much as possible. This is what it means to live sustainably.

So, now you know me, I want to know you. Any time I write something on a controversial topic, I would love to hear your opinions. Hopefully we can enlighten each other and have a productive discussion.

– James


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