What is going on here?

by Marshall Brain


Let me take a few minutes to help you understand what I am hoping to accomplish, and perhaps these ideas will resonate for you. If so, we may be able to build something amazing together.

The foundation of this idea looks something like this. We hold these truths to be self-evident:

  1. Many people have a desire to become better - to improve throughout our lives. If you think about it, what are the alternatives? You can either stand still, going nowhere, or you can get worse. And really, who wants to stand still or get worse as they go through life? I, personally, hope to become a better human being throughout my life. I hope to become a better husband and father. I hope to become more loving and generous. I hope to become stronger in my morals and my ethics - to understand my values and live by them. I hope to be fit and healthy rather than turning into an obese couch potato. I hope to learn more - to become more intelligent. I hope to better understand finances so I can actually retire at some level above the poverty line. I would like to advance in my career and start new businesses. And so on. I think that just about any normal, intelligent person shares many of these aspirations.

  2. People often accomplish more when they are working together with others. It is often the case that 1 + 1 = 3 when it comes to people. So if your goal is to lose weight, or start a new business, or learn a foreign language, or work on a big project, it is often helpful to find others who hope to accomplish the same thing and work together with them. This is not always the case. Albert Einstein accomplished an awful lot on his own. But it is often the case.

  3. For many human beings, life is made better if you have a group of close friends and are part of a community of friendly people. People with a good social life and a strong network of real-world friends generally live longer and are happier according to a number of scientific studies. See this page for details.

  4. It is helpful to help others. For many people, we find that in helping others we help ourselves. We enrich our own lives. It is as though helpfulness is wired into the human psyche, and we gain immense benefits when we connect with that wiring. See this page for a discussion. There is joy in helping others in real, tangible ways.

  5. There are many cases where people can work together to achieve common goals for their families. For example, let's say there is a group of a hundred families who agree to come together to help each other. They can, for example, start a soccer league for their kids. The parents organize and volunteer. Some of them volunteer to be coaches, some to be referees, some to order shirts for the teams, and so on. Those 100 families can have a really good soccer league in their neighborhood that will be great for the kids because the parents are all involved and helping. That same cooperative approach can apply to a lot of other things as well. If members of 20 of those families want to learn Spanish, they can get together and create a Spanish class. Someone can provide the space. Someone can find a teacher or volunteer to be the teacher. Someone can organize field trips. And so on. And now there is a class that costs nothing, or very little.

  6. When things go wrong, it is nice to have friends, and a community, who can help you. And when things go right it is nice to have people to celebrate and share with. See this page for details.

  7. Finally, we can see that as a species, human beings have a history of being fairly awful toward one another, and toward other living things. As mentioned on this page, if an objective outside observer were to today evaluate our species as a whole, we would not get good marks. Millions of innocent people die every year from simple things like starvation, thirst, poor sanitation and lack of access to medicine. Billions live in abject poverty. The United States and Russia have thousands of nuclear missiles pointed at each other under a doctrine called "mutually assured destruction". Thousands of species are threatened with extinction because of humanity's many different forms of pollution. And so on. It is time to recognize these problems and address them as a species. See this page for a discussion.

Imagine millions of people who understand these truths coming together to form warm, loving, active, intelligent communities of people. These people have all made a conscious decision to be better - they live ethical lives of the highest integrity. Their communities have five fundamental goals and a set of features that they share in common, but each community is a unique expression of its members.

What I hope to find is a group of people in the Raleigh area who: a) understand the truths listed above, and b) are interested in gaining the benefits of a community working together toward common goals. I firmly believe that communities of people who are consciously devoted to improvement, ethical behavior, friendship, generosity and the betterment of the human species as a whole will create powerful, interesting and rewarding experiences for everyone involved.

I also believe that we may be able to start similar efforts in other cities and towns besides Raleigh, because this idea may resonate in many other places.

DecidingToBeBetter communities will come in many different shapes and sizes, some very small and intimate, some immense. See the community ideas page for a discussion of the different flavors. See also these pages for additional ideas:

This web site is in the pre-launch phase and is currently under construction. I welcome any comments or suggestions that you might have.

Marshall Brain