By Roland Watson

3. Poverty

Again, an issue of form, and hence also of will. Are people mired in poverty because of the form of their circumstances, or because they do not use their will to escape? The answer is: both. What we are actually looking at is a continuum. As we have seen, to the extent that people can exert their will, they can defeat social form, any social form, including the circumstances that lead to poverty. But also, if a form is overpowering, they will be unable to recover their will. Our ability to eliminate poverty, therefore, is a yardstick for the entire contest, will versus form, and for our capacity truly to develop as a species.

4. Persistent conflicts

Like poverty, an issue of form, and also a measuring stick of real progress. Regarding specific conflicts, what usually happens is that once they begin they are so quickly overwhelmed by form, by people promoting volatility - and more conflict - for their own ends, that they almost immediately become intractable. Therefore, the importance of having a rational discussion as soon as possible following the development of a dispute cannot be overemphasized. It will often be the only chance to diffuse the problem before it becomes too large, and acrimonious, to resolve.

There is a valid question whether a war ever really ends, even when it seemingly is resolved through the victory of one group over another. This is because of the above-described tyranny of the majority. As long as such a tyranny is enforced against the vanquished group, they will always seek to rebel, and as such the war is simply lying dormant, waiting to be reignited. Therefore, if the two groups do not resolve their differences, with reason and peacefully, including agreeing on mechanisms for the sharing of power between them, the war cannot be said to be over.

Also, there are many practical impediments to resolving a conflict, the most important of which is disarmament. The problem with disarmament schemes for rebels is that they are always one-sided. The government never disarms. Therefore, such schemes rarely work. If two armed men face each other, one will never put down his weapon unless he is certain the other will do so as well. To do otherwise would be foolish, even suicidal.

5. Violence on TV and in film

Again, more form. Media apologists notwithstanding, violence on film does lead to violence in real life, when people copy what they see. The solution to this, though, is not censorship. Rather, it is accurate labeling (and enlightened reviews) of the violent content of broadcast programming, and education about form such that people choose not to view it. (Also, the people who copy film violence are of course responsible for their actions, but this does not let the broadcasters off the hook!)

6. Guns

A complex issue of form. Like violent films, there is a direct link between the prevalence of violence in a society and the availability of guns. Therefore, in societies where guns are not readily available, strong steps should be taken to ensure that this does not develop. For societies where guns are readily available, the goal is to phase them out over the long-term. The problem is that in these societies the easy access to guns has led to a great amount of violent crime. And this in turn has fueled the rise of a well-manned and armed police force. But because of this, many people believe that the government has become too strong, hence they must be well armed as well. This increases the demand for guns, and the incidence of violent crime, etc.

While there is no easy solution to this, a number of steps do seem appropriate. As has already occurred in a few states, such as Massachusetts, the law should be changed to require such things as loading indicators and trigger locks. The obvious next step is the development of smart guns, which only the owner can fire.

© Roland Watson 2016