TL;DR – have our kids do it.
Every major problem in the world – hunger, poverty, environment, etc. – is rooted in a complex system of intertwined systems: culture, politics, economics, and so on. I assume there are major problems we have yet to realize (or accept as a society), but let’s focus for now on problems we agree upon. The first step to solving any problem is identifying it, but figuring out how to do that is not my goal here.
Dominant cultures in the world today teach us inadvertently to focus on short-term solutions by identifying and celebrating individuals’ achievements. That’s one of many reasons we have difficulty focusing on the greater good and ask ourselves “what can I get out of this?” Today, there are many people doing good for the world, through both non-profit and for-profit companies. Many of these solutions, while extremely useful for the purpose of collecting data (which is very important), are short-term solutions that often ignore the complexity of the problem.
Major problems rooted in complex systems take time to solve. For example, the abolitionist movement of 1844 can be dated back 150 years to 1688 when four people presented a protest against the institution of slavery to their local Quaker Meeting (it was ignored). Many people would argue that root problems with slavery persist today, in a different form.
The point I’m trying to make here is that it takes generations to solve major problems. It takes time for the desire to solve a problem to reach enough people that we act on it. We are wired to think and feel a certain way, engrained in our minds from decades of programming we call life. A logical explanation is often not enough to make us feel a certain way about something. This is why it takes generations to solve major problems.
We don’t act on what we understand, but what we feel. In order to feel a certain way, we must be exposed to it before we are programmed to feel another way. This is why we need to teach our children about the problems in this world, so not only do they understand it, but they also feel it. Perhaps even our children’s generation won’t reach a tipping point, so we must teach them to teach their children. We won’t solve any major problem in our lifetime, so let’s at least make sure we, as a human race, continue to tackle it, without giving up or forgetting.