Here is a vision of a solution to our way of governance. I imagined it 15 years ago, and I still believe it would be a good “next step” in our evolution as humans.
The idea started trotting in my mind when the 1975 war in Lebanon was over – around 1990. My country was under Syrian occupation and I was so frustrated with the way we as Lebanese dealt with that issue.
Two examples struck me, one, my dad: he took up arms in 1975 to defend what he believed is a just cause putting his own life at risk and sacrificing his professional and financial future. Today, many people owe him and his fellow fighters their life in a sense. The other was us, youngsters: my friends and I manifested against the Syrian occupation with all the risks we incurred (up to being imprisoned and tortured for some). And yet, when all the dust settles, the election system equalizes between citizens who sacrificed a lot and others who did nothing when they were needed. That injustice deeply frustrated me.
Moreover, I was wondering why my friends, who finished their education, could not find jobs decent enough to make a comfortable living in Lebanon and had to travel and endure the hardship, if not the xenophobia, of some foreign country in order to survive, and that prompted me to thinking: What have we become ?? A people adrift!
After more thorough thinking, I came up with this crazy idea of remaking a nation; an artificial island where everything would be built from scratch and I imagined the system to run it. While the island idea may seem crazy or selfish (since I was thinking of the Lebanese issue only), the system that I elaborated is valid for any already existing nation or in the case of my friend Michel Eleftarides’s project, Nowheristan.
So, I was thinking: Who are the people who would be on this island/nation? Well, if I think simple economics and efficiency, that nation should be made of people who can advance it with their skills.
And what are these skills that make any economy flourish? They are inherent qualities of the human beings that no machine (In case we are automating all the production processes.) or animal can have, and can be broken down to 2 or 3:
- Creativity: whether
- Scientific (New engineering projects, inventions, new technology, etc…)
- Artistic (Because they are the emotional source of other kind of creativity)
- Altruism: In that regards, I see any man or woman who feels that their existence is nothing compared to the existence of the group or community. I see people who readily sacrifice their lives to protect others (Soldiers, firefighters, and rescuers.) or people who hold dear a humanitarian cause (ending up hunger, educating people, environmentalists etc…). I group all that under the philosophical definition of the “warrior”.
These are the kind of people sought after to build a nation; the ones that should be promoted. Citizenship should be given to people with such qualities. This does not mean that an engineer will not be doing manual labor when need arises, but one has to have that human “added value”.
I always felt that the choices people make regarding the choice of their leaders in a democracy had nothing to do with leaders needed skills (leadership or knowledge); rather votes were given to the person who talks (lies) best, who distributes money (rich) and the one who goes to every funeral in town and shows fake sympathy. Yet people would still vote for such individuals! Why? Because people do not know how to choose! A conviction that was always there and was scientifically proven recently by the works of David Dunning (Psychologist at Cornell University) and Justin Kruger (New York University) in their research on how people judge and or chose their leaders in. Their conclusion was simple: People aren’t smart enough for democracy to flourish! (link)
Citizenship should be earned instead of being a birthright! (Sounds fascist?) Now, do not go jumping into conclusions. You might think that if someone cannot earn his/her citizenship he/she has no right to exist. On the contrary! Every human being (citizen or not) should be given his minimum rights and I name them: the right to free healthcare, free education, free meals and a bunk bed if he/she cannot find work. (Sounds communist?)
Citizenship should have many levels based on the skills someone shows in his/her knowledge or achievements in a given domain. By achievements, I do not mean financial achievements because these come from luck and inheritance much more than real skills. In fact, financial achievements should NOT be a measure of human value.
Let’s take a walk through example:
To obtain level 1 citizenship you should complete the following:
- Your secondary schooling successfully (I will detail that later on)
- Your military service (If are not ready to die for your community why should you give your opinion in the first place?)
- Your education service (Also detailed further on)
At level 1 citizenship, you will have the right to vote for (but not to run for) the municipal council.
Should you finish some university graduation diploma in any scientific or artistic or military domain, you attain the level 2 citizenship. At this level, you can run for municipal elections and vote for legislative elections.
To run for legislative elections, you should attain a level 3 citizenship: Have either obtained a PHD (or specialized studies) in your domain or done some important achievements in your field (Details could be discussed).
For the executive power level in the nation, I prefer to have a small council of 15 to 20 people all specialized in their domain. For example, the minister of public works should be a civil engineer (With a track record of an extraordinary career path and achievements) and that minister would be only elected by civil engineers, because, precisely, they are the best people to judge his skills.
The council member debates matters and chooses the best course of action to govern.
This method ensures that only the best people are handling the public offices. To take things further, council members, although given resources to govern correctly, should be deprived of any kind of ownership and succession rights in order to protect the government from the corruption that wealth drives to. (An idea borrowed from Michel Elefteriades)
As you may have noticed, for this system to be truly fair, it should give equal opportunities to everyone regardless of wealth. In that sense, all education should be public and free. Now, how to make it so?
Well, simple enough: given all the developments in technology I had this idea (which is currently being implemented now bit by bit around the world and is not exclusively mine: check khanacademy.com) to make all courses like an interactive Discovery Channel documentary (Yes, that good!) administered by the best teachers in the country over a super virtual platform. One teacher (the best) educating 1 million kids!!
Adult supervision and help for the kids will still be needed and that is where the education service, which every citizen of the nation has to make, comes in. The combination of both these ideas makes the cost of education really cheap AND provides the best education for the kids.
A similar interactive approach to the universities can also be used, thus making higher education accessible for all giving researchers more time to focus on the much needed research projects.
There are more social ideas that I drafted as well, but for now this is more relevant to what needs to be done.