Welcome to my world

DAN KIMBER

I asked my students what they would do if they were "ruler of the

world" and had the chance to fix what they thought needed fixing. I

found it interesting that with only a fraction of their lives over,

they've already fashioned a few ideas of what to change and what to

rearrange in this world. At their tender age, they have not felt the

weight of an adult world they are on the verge of entering. I

continue to be amazed by the simple logic and straightforward

thinking that emerges from innocent minds that have not learned "the

way it is."

Having spent the greater part of my life working with young

people, I have, at my tender age, a few thoughts as well about a

better world. They are offered in the spirit of a youthful idealism

-- some would call it naivete -- not yet completely molded into the

rut of old age.

If I ruled the world, I would decree that environmentalists lead

us; that they would proclaim a greater loyalty for our planet than

they do for the self-interests of the nations they represent. If, for

example, one country has the will and the resources to spend hundreds

of billions of dollars protecting its economic interests halfway

around the world (or deposing a dictator if you like), would it not

be a more far-sighted course for that country to use those resources

to fit millions of its homes and buildings with solar panels, thereby

making it less dependent on resources from other parts of the world?

In my world, the objections of the few who have acquired power and

influence by virtue of the money they possess would be no more or

less important than any other individual expressing an opinion. All

of the vested and special interests would give way to the greater

interest of the common good. Enlightened thought would extend beyond

bottom lines and profit margins and be applied to the betterment of

our planet and the future generations who will inhabit it.

In my world, religious conviction would be confined to each

individual in his or her relationship with God. Children of the world

would be required to study all religions, not to convert their

beliefs but to open their eyes to the multitude of ways that

humankind has struggled to understand its Creator. All adults who

claim that God is on their side, who maintain that there is only one

true path to spiritual enlightenment, or who denigrate the teachings

of other religions, will be made to take a refresher course to see

more clearly the commonalties of our world's religions.

After these mandates, all else pales in comparison. Like most

people, I have a long list of things I would like to see changed, so

I'll just tack on a few others here.

In my world, all who would bring children into it would be made to

understand the heavy responsibility that goes with it. They would

learn of a sacred duty to their children to support them, to teach

them, and to love them unconditionally. Anything less would be a sin

against their sons and daughters, as well as the world into which

they are brought.

In my world, all political campaigns would be publicly financed.

With the same dedication that we separate church from state, we would

put an end to the unholy alliance of political leaders and

profiteers.

In my world, the telephone would revert to its original purpose

and become solely a device of communication. All who use it to peddle

their wares -- who answer the phone with "Good evening, Mr. ______"

or "You have been selected" or who employ a recorded voice to

communicate a message -- would be fined for having wasted my time and

invaded my privacy.

My world recognizes the harsh realities that accrue with age but

also celebrates those among us who believe in a better way and who

are convinced that fundamental change is possible. If it is naive to

suggest that the people of this world are capable of coming together

in understanding and mutual respect, it is equally cynical to believe

that we are condemned to dark destinies and irreconcilable

differences.

My world would be ruled not with an iron fist but with an open

hand. It would tolerate the pessimists and realists, but would

encourage the optimists and dreamers as well. In the present confines

of my realm, a high school classroom and a few hundred students each

year, I shall continue to encourage the young idealists who believe

that they can make a difference. They are, in my opinion, our

greatest hope for a better world.

* DAN KIMBER has taught

in Glendale schools for more

than 30 years. Reach him at dkimb8@aol.com.

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