For six thousand years, the planet that we call Earth has been inhabited by human beings not any different from ourselves. Their desire to live has been just as strong as ours has. They had at least as much physical strength as the average person of today and among them has been men and women of great intelligence. However, down through the ages, most human beings have gone hungry, and many have always starved.
The ancient Assyrians, Persians, Egyptians, Greeks, Mayans, and Incas were intelligent people; but in spite of their intelligence and their fertile lands, they were never able to get enough to eat. They often killed their babies because they could not feed them.
The Roman Empire collapsed in famine. The French were dying of hunger in the early 19th century. As late as 1846, the Irish were starving to death; and no one was particularly surprised because famines in the Old World (Eurasia and Africa), and much of the World today, were the rule rather than the exception.
It is only within the last century that a relatively small number of people in Western Europe, the United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Japan have had enough food to keep them alive – soup and bread in France, fish in Scandinavia, beef in England.
Hunger has always been normal. Even to this day, famines kill multitudes in China, India, and Africa; and in the 1930s, thousands upon thousands starved to death on the richest farmlands of the then USSR.
Down through the ages, countless millions, struggling unsuccessfully to keep a flicker of life in wretched bodies, have died young in misery and squalor.
Then suddenly, in a few isolated spots on this planet, people eat so abundantly that the pangs of hunger are forgotten. Overweight, even obesity, has now become a serious problem.
Why did human beings die of starvation for six thousand years or more? Why is it that people in the United States of America, since its inception as an independent Western country, have never had a countrywide famine like Russia, India, or China? The nearest the United States came to this was the severe drought in the Dust Bowl.
The term Dust Bowl (a section of the Great Plains of the United States that extended over southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, and northeastern New Mexico.) was suggested by conditions that struck the region in the early 1930s. The area’s grasslands had supported mostly stockraising until World War I, when millions of acres were put under the plough in order to grow wheat.
Following years of over cultivation and generally poor land management in the 1920s, the region – which receives an average rainfall of less than 500 millimetres in a typical year – suffered a severe drought in the early 1930s that lasted several years. The region’s exposed topsoil, robbed of the anchoring, water-retaining roots of its native grasses, was carried off by heavy spring winds. ‘Black blizzards’ of windblown soil blocked out the sun and piled the dirt in drifts.
Occasionally the dust storms swept completely across the country to the East Coast. Thousands of families were forced to leave the region at the height of the Great Depression in the early and mid-1930s. The wind erosion was gradually halted with federal aid; windbreaks were planted and much of the grassland was restored. By the early 1940s, the area had largely recovered.
Why did human beings walk and carry goods (and other human beings) on their straining backs for more than six thousand years – then suddenly, on only a small percentage of the earth’s surface, the forces of nature are harnessed to do the bidding of the humblest citizen?
Why then did men, women, and children eke out their meagre existence for over six thousand years toiling desperately from dawn to dark? Barefoot, half-naked, unwashed, unshaved, uncombed, with lousy hair, mangy skins, and rotting teeth – then suddenly, in these very few places on earth, there is an abundance of such things as nylon and cotton underwear, nylon hosiery, piped water, hot showers and baths, safety razors, soda, milkshakes, cosmetics, electricity, and the very best health services on call?
Why did families live for more than six thousand years in caves and floorless hovels, without windows or chimneys – then within a few generations, people in a relatively few countries take floors, rugs, chairs, tables, windows, and chimneys for granted and regard electric lights, refrigerators, running water, porcelain baths, plastic products, and flushing toilets as common necessities? They, in fact, consider it their indisputable (God given) human right to have these luxuries, to use, as when and where they please!
Human rights are today considered rights that belong to an individual or group of individuals because of being human. They refer to a wide continuum of values or capabilities thought to enhance human society and declared to be universal in character, in some sense equally claimed for all human beings.
A Universal Declaration of Human Rights declaration was completed by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in June 1948. It was adopted, after a few changes, by the General Assembly at its Paris session on 10 December 1948, by unanimous vote (with the six members of the Soviet bloc, Saudi Arabia, and the then Union of South Africa abstaining).
The declaration contained general definitions not only of those principal civil and political rights recognised in democratic constitutions but also of several so-called economic, social, and cultural rights. To the first group belong such rights as life, liberty, and security of person; freedom from arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile; right to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal; freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; and freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
Among the new items in the declaration were the right to social security; right to work; right to education; right to participate in the cultural life of the community; and right to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
I personally think that individual rights (not human rights) and specifically individual property rights had a lot to do with the improvement of the human condition. People must be able to make their own decisions; they must be able to follow their own personal map or ‘recipe for the good life’. People must be free to plot their own routes through life. Moreover, they must be responsible for their own lives – successes and failures.
The idea of a map or ‘recipe for the good life’ is very useful as a light in the road ahead or a good roadmap. I think that it is a tool that everybody can use to better his, or her, own circumstances. It is a good analogy for planning and control. Without a viable recipe, planning and control are impotent or disjointed. Any recipe starts with some vision!
A recipe firstly describes the ingredients (and quantities) that one needs to reach your goal (the vision), but it is more than that; it also describes the steps that one has to follow to reach your goal. Furthermore, a good recipe can also be used for control purposes right through the whole process of accomplishing a goal.
Thus, a recipe is required if you want to reach certain goals; you must consider the resources that will be needed, as well as the steps that is required to reach the goal.