I love Russell Brand as a person, I really do, and I agree with much of what he said towards the end about creating communities and societies who inherently love and value life more than death and the after life. However, I do think to some extent he simplifies an issue in the modern sense without looking towards the historical and broader moral context.
As planet, we're still divided along ideological and geopolitical lines. We still have countries and states and cities and communities to which we give much of our patriotism and incorporate into our identities. When you ask many people about who they are, they'll explain themselves as where they've grown up, what country they're from, and from that you can infer some of the ideologies which would have influenced their upbringing. In any world where there are nations that are divided along borders there is going to be, to lesser or greater extent, an US vs. THEM mentality. We compete in world sports and the Olympics and in politics and economics, and we fight because we're all trying to feel powerful and claw our way to the top in a scarcity world.
To that end, as an US vs. THEM world, we must look at the history of the world. Europe thrived because of their agriculture and technology which came about mostly due to circumstances and preferable climates, I would suggest reading "Guns, Germs, and Steel" to get a general idea of this process. In our modern times, you can see the effects of this Western conquering of the world. We still talk about the world as " The West" and "The East"; and we throw into that generalization something of a spin of "Developed First World" vs. "Under Developed Third World". There's this dichotomy between those nations who were privileged through circumstances to have their industrial revolutions and the course of history put them on top, and those who were not so lucky. You look at America and Europe where the impoverished are still much better off than the common man in Africa or much of the Middle East and Asia; our homeless still usually have clothes and food and some level of care, theirs are starving to death.
Personally I think we're in a very rocky middle time between stages of human development. On the Kardashev Scale we'd fall somewhere between Type I and Type II, or Type 0 and Type 1; we're a global society that still is divided and warring, but is learning to come together and harness all the power that our planet provides. I think our technological development, though, has outpaced our legislative and cultural development. Suddenly it's common place to have a connection instantly to talk to people from around the world and access data at the touch of a button; transportation advances have made immigration and emigration incredibly fast paced; peoples are coming into contact with one another in moments rather than months or years. The troubles we're experiencing, I feel, are the effects of overreaction on both sides trying to compensate for the sudden rush of free trade of thoughts and products. Where China and Japan have slowly been integrating themselves into the modern world by taking over production of technology and are fighting their own internal battles over politics, we see much more warring and much less cooperation when you look to the middling countries. There's still a lot of fear-mongering, God fearing, a lot of old prejudice and tribal power struggles.
The issue with this is that we've tried so much to integrate the entire world into society at once that we're seeing the ripples of these societies and ideologies clashing against one another. It's not so simple as to say, "Let's raise a generation that loves life!", because you're talking about trying to influence 7 billion people and counting, all of whom are divided religiously, politically... culturally. Even in our own western nations there's US and THEM because we draw these very strong bipartisan lines between the right and left-wings of politics, the conservative and the liberal. We often throw reason to the wayside just to march under a banner, cherry-picking names from an arbitrary figurehead of ideological tenets rather than looking towards and looking for the truths, or what the individual entity truly stands for.
The West, specifically I would say America, has tried to act as the Judge and Jury of the world. We've tried to act as the righteous peacekeepers and heralds of democracy, and we've done this by using these foreign lands as pawns. In the Cold War we threw modern weapons at these people to oppose the "threat of Communism", and they've taken those and turned them against us as we've tried to continue being their "friends" and influencing them and using them for resources. We've provided little of our luxuries and wealth, and even in our own nations the political and corporate keep much of the wealth. I would say to some extent then jealousy is a factor.
Deeper, though, we see globalization as a threat. We all do. Every nation is trying to defend its borders and stand as its own entity and try to become dominant. We quibble and shame and show force, all trying to stand on top and victorious, rather than trying to integrate and understand. It's a systemic issue inherent to this fundamental idea of "nations" we have residual from the days of kingdoms and empires. I don't think these broad reaching governments holding lands and peoples hostage from one another work any more. Empires and Kingdoms worked because of the slowness of it. Villages and Towns were to some extent autonomous because the time it took to send a message from King to Lord and back again was much longer. In that context the system worked, because the towns were able to react locally to issues which affected them, so long as they paid tax to their lords. In a modern context, I would be much happier with a more decentralized world government which oversaw nations and states and cities in a loose hierarchy. The world government would act as a diplomatic liaison to oversee that human rights are upheld, that resources are distributed fairly, and that the nations maintain peace. The cities would be mostly autonomous to deal with their own issues, and so the same with the states and cities. As stated above, though, I don't honestly believe this is something that will come about any time soon. We're still trying to get used to this idea of a singular world and interacting with other cultures, and of acceptance and reason. It would probably take hundreds of years before we'd be comfortable with that kind of world structure.
As a slight aside, I would like to inject some of my own views to the issue of "loving life" as Russell Brand so put it, and say that I don't think we can create a world with a pure appreciation of life and improving the now without first creating a secular world. So long as people feel there is nothing to lose in death because the afterlife will be eternal reward, I don't think that we can ever create a culture with a true appreciation of life. The people who bomb themselves for these causes believe they'll be rewarded for it; so long as you have scripture of any kind that is beyond criticism in peoples' minds and is infallible, unfalsifiable, it will be used both for good and ill. And I would say that the good is diminished in a religious context, because it is disingenuous; you're acting for god and his rewards and to avoid his wrath, rather than simply for the betterment of mankind because you can. You're schmoozing the man upstairs, and on your deathbed thinking of what you've done to earn you spiritual pleasures, rather than of what is simply right or wrong. Moreover, as a political institution, religion acts as yet another barrier to acceptance, and another distinguishing factor which sets apart US from THEM. And it's very hard to argue with someone or empathize with them when you've been so indoctrinated that you feel your eternal soul and your afterlife is on the line.
My name is Jeffrey Hepburn, and I'm a young writer, graphic design artist, and aspiring filmmaker.