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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.