This book is an analysis of human nature, and of how it is corrupted and distorted by the forces of social conformity. It is a guide for individuals: on how you can fight the influences of society, find a lasting and satisfying purpose in your life, and help make the world a better place. It is also a guide for the leaders and policy-makers of social institutions: on how they can better adapt and manage their organizations to meet the needs of the inhabitants of our planet.

As anyone can see, there are many serious problems around the world. Of course, this is nothing new. Horrible tragedies and holocausts have occurred throughout history, and doubtless occurred in prehistory as well. This would naturally lead one to conclude that they will persist far into the future. The question is: is this a valid presumption, or is there something new we can try to prevent these “historical recurrences?”

The fact that problems recur is not for a want of effort. Well-intentioned people have worked throughout the ages to make the world a better place. However, and notwithstanding their many accomplishments, their efforts in the main have changed nothing. For example, many people, from the ancient Greeks to latter-day communists, have attempted to design and implement ideal communities, in other words, utopias. All of these experiments failed. Many people also imagined that the development of science and technology, and the industrial revolution that followed, would provide a new course to social equilibrium and peace. After three centuries of this experience, though, we can see, even after considering all of its positive effects, that “progress” also has failed, and that this has been another false hope. While the benefits of technology have been profound, it has also led to new and terrible problems.

What is wrong with us? Why can't we work things out? Why can't we make a better world? It is such questions this book proposes to address.

This book will attempt to look deep into the complexities of the universe and life. It will attempt to distinguish between symptoms and underlying problems. It will attempt to find solutions that do not conflict, with each other, or with our essential nature.

To begin, the book takes as its foundation principle Jefferson's statement that all men (and, of course, women) are created equal. Said another way, “we all start life the same, with no prejudices or biases, only the desire to live.”

In today's world, though, there are huge differences between people, from country to country and between different economic classes and other groups based on race, religion, sex, age and culture. But, even given these differences, we are still essentially the same. We are humans. Regarding the most important aspects of life, what one has to deal with day-to-day and, furthermore, how to understand and deal with life's conclusion, with death, there is no difference between us in our ability to observe and understand. Anyone, just through being alive, can grasp the deepest issues surrounding our existence, and take advantage of its greatest opportunities. For instance, anyone can be a hero.

The principle of equality has many consequences, a few of which are as follows:

- The differences between people in capability, the differences that exist in what we as individuals can learn and accomplish, are only small. (If I have done my job well, everyone will be able to understand this book.)

- There is no justifiable basis for discrimination.

- There should not be any great differences between people in terms of opportunity, wealth, power and freedom. (Personal value, though, is another question. We all have the same value at birth, regardless of our circumstances. The question is: does our subsequent behavior change this?)

The actual text of Jefferson’s statement, of the beginning of the Declaration of Independence, is as follows:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government...

This is the real American Dream, and I would highlight two of its basic points. We should never forget that our declaration of independence, our declaration of freedom, begins with a declaration of equality. Equality comes first. Secondly, if the current government of the United States, or any other nation, indeed, if any social institution (“any form of government”), does not serve the interests of the people, such people have the right - they are in fact obliged - “to alter or to abolish it.” In addition, the interests of the people evolve with time. Social institutions therefore must evolve as well, in tandem with this, so they continue to serve a useful purpose.

© Roland O. Watson 2001-2005