I doubt if any generation has faced a more difficult and discouraging future than yours. It’s important, however, not to deal with it in an either/or way. You don’t have to make it into a choice between total selflessness and total selfishness. In order to keep going, you must build a life for yourself that’s worth living. This isn’t self-indulgence, this is a necessity.

Saving the world is something we all must be engaged in, but to be effective, we also must have lives that include fulfillment, success, happiness, and mental well-being. You have physical, social, and emotional needs that must be met, because if they’re not met, you’re not going to be able to contribute your best to the common cause.

Our cultural heritage makes a powerful link between salvation and self-denial, but you won’t find anything in my books that reinforces that link. We’re a profoundly deprived people—and the world suffers for it. We literally take out our misery on the world, plundering it to enrich ourselves with toys that still leave us miserable. To be kinder to the world, we don’t need emptier lives, we need fuller lives (which is what I was groping for in Beyond Civilization).

ID: 588
updated: 03 Sep 2002