What World Would You Design?

What world would you design? “Just imagine that it is 24 hours before you are born. A genie comes and says to you in the womb, ‘You look like an extraordinarily responsible, intelligent, potential human being. You’re going to emerge in 24 hours and it is an enormous responsibility I am going to assign to you — determination of the political, economic and social system into which you are going to emerge. You set the rules, any political system, democracy, parliamentary, anything you wish — you can set the economic structure, communistic, capitalistic, set anything in motion and I guarantee you that when you emerge this world will exist for you, your children and grandchildren.

What’s the catch? One catch — just before you emerge you have to go through a huge bucket with 7 billion slips, one for each human. Dip your hand in and that is what you get — you could be born intelligent or not intelligent, born healthy or disabled, born black or white, born in the US or in Bangladesh, etc. You have no idea which slip you will get.’ Not knowing which slip you are going to get, how would you design the world?”

Walking by homeless man, What world would you design?
Photo by Lee Nachtigal / CC by 2.0

In Warrens words

This is how billionaire businessman Warren Buffett describes his perspective on politics, economics, and social systems.  It’s unfortunate that many people don’t consider this when making decisions about how we treat the less fortunate.  They didn’t design the system into which they were born.  Some may have made poor choices.  Many just can’t seem to catch a break.  Now their world revolves around finding their next meal, looking for somewhere on the street that can offer them a modicum of comfort and safety.  If they manage to find these things, they then have to worry about being treated like garbage.  Most people will say that they support helping the homeless, but they just don’t want it around them.  When the homeless come around, they shout, “Not in my back yard!”  They live in comfortable homes with no thought of the man sleeping out in the cold across town.  They put their children to bed without a care about the child going to sleep with an empty belly.  They have the means, but not the desire to make the world a place that would help these people.

Warren Buffett’s idea of how we should look at the world isn’t far from the truth.  This world is what we make it.  We can make this a harsh and unforgiving world full of people who cast aside those who need a hand.  We can walk by the homeless man on the street or the child who hasn’t had a meal in days and ignore them or look at them with disdain because they are making our city look bad.  Or we can make our world a place where someone who has been the victim of circumstance has a fighting chance.  We can see the man who is out on the streets in the cold.  We can do whatever we can to help.  Maybe you pay for a room for the night at a nearby hotel.  If you don’t have the means, maybe you just bring him a hot cup of coffee or buy a suspended coffee at the local coffee shop.  Maybe you can bring the child and family that hasn’t eaten in days a meal or a the money to buy some food.  Maybe you can donate to a shelter or food bank.

There are endless ways to make this world a better place.  Every decision you make about how to treat the less fortunate helps design the world in which we live.  We’ve made this world.  Some of us have been fortunate enough to be born to circumstances that helped us succeed.  Some haven’t had the same luck.  The good news is that, unlike in Warren Buffett’s vision, we can change the world.  Whether it’s the small things like a cup of coffee or the major impacts like starting a charity, we can make this place the kind of world that everyone can enjoy, regardless of the slips they got.