As a human being on this Earth, I feel the need to both protect others and to assert my freedom. Those two goals may conflict, but I think that the values of the enlightenment period in history both give us a guideline and insight as to how best to view society, laws, and how best to treat others.
The enlightenment values I am speaking of, are, I think, the following:
- A skeptical approach to every part of society, towards an improvement of all of our systems.
- Freedom of speech and freedom of thought;
- A willingness to allow “bottom-up” movements and ideas to disseminate throughout society, rather than top-down authority.
The books “The Science of Liberty”, by Timothy Ferris, “The Moral Arc”, by Michael Shermer, and particularly the book, “The Better Angels of Our Nature”, by Steven Pinker, all go into much detail about why society improved once those values were developed, and how close adherence to those values make for a much safer, more prosperous, and more fair society.
I also keep thinking about the words of Christopher Hitchens, when he stated that the best way to make a nation prosperous is for that nation to make it as easy as possible for a woman to get an education. That’s it. And I think he’s right. Women that delay marriage and children and are educated help all of society, and make everyone’s life better.
Making it easy for smaller and larger businesses to start up, take on risk, hire employees and pay taxes is also an easy way to help economies of all types around the world, but you would be surprised to see how little that is utilized around the world.