Why I Started Ideality Check

Heaven on Earth is possible, but we must fix our minds and hearts first

Adam Singer
8 min readJun 3, 2021
Photo Credit: Michael Dziedzic

It is June, 2021, and I have spent the last 15 months of the pandemic mostly at home alone with a lot of time to reflect on the state of humanity in general. I know I’m not the only one either.

One major theme comes to me again and again. I hear and read it almost every day, and I feel it strongly myself: “I don’t want to just go back to the way things were.” As if it weren’t obvious before 2020, it’s clear now that our culture needs some major course-corrections. It’s frustratingly apparent that the discourse in the media and among political leaders is firmly rooted in a dangerous and outdated worldview. A lot of people are struggling to imagine where we can realistically go from here. Our collective experience has brought many of us to one or more of the following conclusions:

“We need more jobs.”

If one listened only to what our political leaders (and a lot of the media) told us, we would come away with the impression that in order to fix our problems, we need to put more people to work. We need a stronger and more equitable economy. We need to eliminate unemployment. We need to make sure everyone has money so that they can keep spending it. Our leaders give us these messages nearly every day. Deep down, though, we know better. As children, none of us dreamt of working in a factory or sitting at a desk all day when we grew up, and yet most of us consider it totally reasonable to hear our leaders say that more of us should go work in factories or sit at desks all day, and then everything will be better. We excuse it by saying things like, “Well, that’s reality,” all the while willing ourselves to forget that we make our reality.

“We are destroying the environment and are on a path to self-destruction”

This is an increasingly popular outlook on the state of humanity, and for a good reason; it’s true. There is overwhelming agreement in the scientific and economic communities that if we just keep going along with business as usual, we may wipe ourselves out within a few more generations. Not only that, but we’ll suffer increasing disease and poverty and wars over scarcity along the way. So far, most discussion about how to deal with this rests in, or between, two main camps:
The first says, “We totally can keep consuming as much as we want, no problem! We just have to come up with new technologies and use more renewables and everything will be fine.”
The other camp says, “We need to stop increasing consumption. We need to stop using up mother nature. Even if we change our ways to something more environmentally friendly, we can’t just keep tearing up the Earth forever. Endless expansion in a finite space is not possible.”

“Our problems are a result of inequality, if we fix that, then people can thrive”

It’s absolutely true that inequality is a serious problem, and is creating a situation for many people in which they can not improve things for themselves; they are literally struggling to survive. Meanwhile, the ultra-rich are hoarding ever greater piles of wealth, and are building bunkers to weather the storm when the fallout comes, rather than spending that money to help avert catastrophe.

If all these problems disappeared tomorrow, would people finally be able to thrive? Not yet.

All of those perspectives hold a piece of the truth. One could be tempted to say that the real truth is somewhere between all of them, but unfortunately, it’s not so simple. All of the outlooks I’ve mentioned so far only address the external material state of humanity. The fact is that the problem also lies within the interior dimension of human existence (intangible things like — thoughts and feelings! — bad words in serious conversations about problem solving). More and more solid evidence to support this claim is found all the time. Meditation produces physical benefits for the body and brain. It’s proven that stress causes illness. Depression rates among the young people in the richest country on Earth were at an all-time high even before the pandemic started. These are the material (external) confirmations of an internal truth that most of us can feel, even if our culture and our language has left us without many tools to interpret it.

All of these outlooks have a goal of a certain external condition. They assume once that goal is reached, people will finally be able to thrive, and our problems will get better. The interior state of human existence is seen as secondary to all the material issues we face. Want to practice religion? Great. Spirituality? Volunteering? Just general “working on yourself?” Go ahead. But do that on your own time. Those things aren’t going to fix our problems. We have to work to pay our bills. We have to buy things to keep the economy going. We can go on vacation and pursue hobbies to balance it out.

It is the Arrival Fallacy (“once I get [x], then I’ll be happy”) being played out on a culture-wide scale.

There is a big missing piece, and though you can find it addressed in some social circles in casual conversation, and perhaps in the self-help industry, it’s almost entirely absent from the greater cultural conversation:

A majority of our worst material problems today stem from ignorance of the interior condition of existence.

Ever since humans started inventing tools, we started looking at the conditions around us in the outside world and thinking up new ways to make those conditions easier and more comfortable. This habit has led to all the inventions we enjoy today (and there have been some great ones!) People seem to be wired to constantly find new problems, and then invent solutions for them. That in itself is neither good nor bad, it simply is. Somewhere along the way however, the western cultural mission itself was tied to the idea that “we just need to find enough solutions.” Contentment is too often tied to a state of material conditions. However, since we’re also wired to find new problems in whatever those conditions are, we are doomed to permanent discontentment if we can’t find another way out of this loop. The loop is also reinforced in our minds hundreds of times every day by advertising, which is fundamentally designed to convince us that we need something we don’t currently have in order to be happy.

It’s all but forbidden for a political leader to address this dilemma directly. To do so would suggest that we can not fix our discontentment with material methods, which then can be quantified, justified, and translated into commerce. Imagine if a president said something like “We need to stop looking for happiness in material things and turn inward.” One can easily find enough empirical evidence to back up this claim. But, of course, not only would this get a bad reaction from a lot of people who are very much committed to our current paradigm, it would literally be bad for business.

So we buy things, we set goals to acquire more things, we accept the long-held assumption that more jobs and a strong economy are equal to societal success, and we get caught in the arrival fallacy over and over. I would suggest that a lot of us are conscious of the fallacy even as we participate, because well, what else are we going to do? This is great for the economy, and a disaster for our hearts, and the planet.

Consider that possibly the most common existential question is “Why are we here?” It speaks to a subtle, pervasive suspicion that maybe humanity isn’t really here for any bigger reason in particular at all. Is it any wonder that a culture that tries to compress everything into the material world, and is laser-focused on finding contentment in objects and getting it from other people, is asking itself this question?

So, as some of us already know, we must work on our internal condition, and we can not wait for our leaders to confirm this for us. We must train ourselves to shake off the constant bombardment of messages that we can’t be content without (x). Anyone who’s spent any time working on this knows that it’s hard to make the time, thanks to the fact that for most adults these days, life is exhausting. How are we supposed to develop and pursue a rich interior life when we’re all worn out from working in a job that isn’t fulfilling? Exhausted from meeting the needs and wants of others? It’s almost as if life is set up to prevent true progress from happening. How can we find the energy, the time, and the courage to swim against the current of our entire social structure in order to find some happiness and hold on to our dreams, especially when doing so may cost us our job, and alienate us from our culture?

I make no claim to hold all the answers to these questions, but I can provide one answer: we won’t solve the root problems by swimming against the current. We might as well try to swim across the Pacific Ocean.

However, we can change our cultural ocean. We may not see all the changes we want in our lifetime, but I can clearly see a path where our culture encourages the healing of the human mind and heart, rather than stands in the way of that healing.

It starts with waking up and imagining how that can happen. It starts with finding every way we can to encourage young people to hold on to their dreams for a bright and fulfilling future (and maybe to stop teaching them that fulfillment will come with achieving the traditional “American dream”). We can create the very current that will carry us across the ocean.

Even today, we have the means to solve a great number of our material problems, but our cultural behavior is standing in the way. I believe with all my heart and mind that we have absolutely everything we need to reach a reality where every single person can be content. Perhaps human suffering will never disappear completely, or perhaps it will. A permanent absence of suffering is not the same thing as contentment. We actually don’t know what our brightest existence looks like yet, because it’s never been seen before in all of known history. And yet, it’s possible. Heaven on Earth is possible.

I was inspired by the Solarpunk movement and some great articles by

to start taking a more active role in lending my creativity to this cause and sharing it with others, in spite of the fact that I’m incredibly self-conscious about my writing, and have always been hesitant to share my views on society with the world at large. After all, who am I?

Regardless of who I am, I can see, and have experienced first-hand, ways we can heal our collective psyche and create a world in which everyone can be fulfilled. But for many of us, myself included, our jobs and other circumstances stand in the way. The answer is not more jobs, or more things, but a healing of the collective worldview. Our technologies and infrastructure, combined with a healed worldview, can open new doors to humanity that we’ve only ever been able to dream of until now. Some of the most stubborn dilemmas will actually solve themselves if we can fix our minds and hearts. It may take a few generations, but I believe whole-heartedly that it can happen. Any time I feel that genuine infusion of inspiration that provides a hint at how that will happen, I will share it here.

--

--