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Progress for Some versus Progress for All

March 21, 2012

This is an important distinction, mainly by virtue of how often it has been overlooked.

In historical terms, this is how we tend to demarcate progress.  If one person goes to the moon, we say humanity has gone to the moon.  If two cities are connected by telephone technology, we say the world is connected.  If the average level of affluence increases, we say everyone’s affluence has increased.  If fewer people die from war or crime, we say everyone is safer.  The history of Democracy has been a succession of degrees of exclusion, yet we continue to equate it with freedom for everyone.

The reality is that every plan concocted so far leaves those who are worse off, and the worst off today have it just as bad as any who have ever been.

The question to ask about your cause, your mission, your job, your purpose: does it represent progress for some, or progress for all?  Will it truly increase the resources of humanity as a whole, or does it have some kind of exclusionary principle built right in?

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