The Biggest Problem in the World

When I was a student at TOBB ETÜ, the final exam of “Science, Ethics ve Human” course, which I remember with my opened horizon, light and good memories wanted us to define the biggest problem in the world and propose a solution.

Thinking this issue was rather inspiring. As a piece, a resident of the world, hope to solve a problem of this planet where we taste existence beckoned muses and worked the mind like the wheels of a clock.

It was not an ordinary exam that we shut ourselves away in a lecture hall and solved questions through two hours. If I remember correctly, it had a deadline a month or a week later. We would write an article, describe the biggest problem in the world and go to a solution step by step. I wrote the following on April 6, 2019:

The Biggest Problem in the World

The only way to answer a question is to understand it very well. “What’s the biggest problem in this world?” In order to answer this question, we first need to define the word “problem”. For example, is it a problem that a meteor hit the Earth? Is it a problem that dinosaurs went extinct or that living things had to kill each other in order to survive?

The definition of the word “problem” in TDK is as follows:

1. The situation that needs to be researched and learned, considered and resolved, and concluded; issue.

2. Annoying situation, trouble. [1]

The first definition states that the “problem” concerns only human; because the actions of researching, learning, thinking and analyzing and concluding can only be done by humans. Other living things cannot do research, and they cannot go out of doing what is necessary for their instincts and evolution. For example, it is unthinkable for gazelles to set up barricades or to research new defense tactics to get rid of lions. Gazelles simply run and the weak feeds to lions, because running is enough for the individuals to survive and the wheel continues to spin.

If it is not the “problem” that any other species other than human brings to nature, we arrive at the answer to our first question: No extinction action involved in the natural functioning of nature is a problem.

The human understanding of the problem will remain, again, as actions that harm the human species in a highly selfish framework. We want to protect other species in nature for our own future. Our conscience, which is disinterestedly saddened by global warming, the tormented animals and the uncontrolled increase in consumption, again protects us from us. In other words, we save ourselves as we save others. Still, “problem” and “solution” remain human-oriented concepts. After that, “What is the biggest problem in this world?” We can easily give the following answer to the question: Everything that harms humanity in the short, medium and long term.

Specifying a Broad Concept

Strong nations have a policy known by centuries on weaker nations: divide and rule. In fact, this strategy is valid not only in the field of management, but also in all the jobs that a person is trying to achieve and all the questions that he seeks answers. A writer writes his novel by dividing it into chapters. A person who tries to remember a song he forgot, first hum a small melody, repeats it over and over and tries to revive the other parts. “Everything that harms humanity in the short, medium and long term.” It is necessary to divide this definition in order to examine it properly.

What are the things that harm humanity in the short term? Let’s limit this concept of short term to a hundred years. In this category, there are generally political problems such as wars, occupation, polarization, bad politicians. Even the wounds of world wars, in which millions of people lost their lives, could be healed in a few decades.

What are the things that do harm in the medium term? Let’s define the period between 100-3000 years as “medium term”. In this category, there are problems such as the extinction of civilizations, prevention of scientific curiosity, and general paradigm changes such as racism. For example, the assassination of the female philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria by the fanatics has the same reasons and the same intellectual background as the witch hunt that lasted for centuries in Europe.

Environmental and natural problems are the things that hurt in the long term. Humans have harmed nature by using technology incorrectly, and the effect of this will last for millennia, perhaps causing the destruction of life on Earth.

“Many animals are in danger of extinction due to global warming, poaching and the gradual shrinkage of their natural habitats.

American Museum of Natural History biologists warn that 20 percent of the world’s animal population could disappear by 2028.

It is estimated that nearly 2 million animal species have been discovered so far, but this number is only a small fraction of the animal world when considering species awaiting discovery or already erased from the world.

Studies show that 89 mammals have become extinct in the last 400 years, and 169 are threatened with extinction.” [2]

Solution Research For Problems

Although we distinguish short, medium and long term problems from each other, each of these problems actually leads to the other and cannot be solved independently from each other. Therefore, it is necessary to find the most fundamental problem and focus on it.

Why do political problems that we define as “short term” arise? For this, it is necessary to look at the decision maker. It is the rulers who decide to war. It is the rulers who cannot direct the economy and cause poverty. It is the rulers who cannot prevent the polarization of the people or prepare the ground for this polarization. In this case, we can attribute the problems to the “bad ruler” element, but this is insufficient.

The rulers of a people grow up in that people and adopt the thoughts of that people. This is so from the democratic regime, where the people directly participate in the rule, to the absolute monarchy, because a ruler who opposes his people cannot maintain his powers for a long time, he is overthrown by rebellion. So we can easily say that the ruler is the mirror of the people. This result is in a hadith-i sharif, “You are governed as you are.” expressed as. [3]

A bad ruler is a sign of an ignorant public.

The problems of civilization, which we define as “middle term” directly reach the same basis, ignorant masses of people. The burning of libraries, witch hunts, lynchings, could not have been done without a mass of people denied scientific knowledge. The sources of the problems we call “long term” are also the same, masses of people who do not know what to do. Anaesthetized societies who cannot stop the moves that threaten the future of nature.

The most fundamental problem, then, is the ignorance of societies.

So, the basis of the solution strategy should be social education.

The Ideal of Social Education

Social education, in its simplest form, is to bring every individual of a society to a minimum level of education. The principle of “Primum non nocere” (First, do no harm) in medicine can also be applied to social education. An educated person needs to reach maturity that will at least not harm anyone, even if he/she does not benefit the world.

For example, an educated person should keep himself/herself away from substance addiction, take care of his/her health and thus not harm himself/herself. Except for self-defense, they should avoid violence, get on well with family and friends, respect someone they do not know, not make fun of their physical characteristics, or discriminate. Again, an educated person should avoid harming the environment, do not waste, minimize plastic consumption and try to reduce their carbon footprint.

Social education, which raises “harmless” individuals, is a successful social education.

In addition, a mistake should also be corrected. When “education” is said in public, only “academic education” is understood. However, academic education is far from providing sufficient social maturity. An excerpt from the interview of Evan Stark, who works on women and children victims of violence in the USA:

“Are men with more economic difficulties committing violence? Or is the woman without economic strength and low education being beaten?

Stark: In some places violence is more prevalent in families where men are unemployed. But in the same way, men in positions of authority, be it teachers, police, lawyers, doctors or leaders, ministers, can beat, harass and abuse their wives. This is a very common situation.

Which women are being beaten?

Stark: Award-winning journalists, stockbrokers, politicians, lawyers, doctors, architects, engineers, and even university deans are beaten and harassed by their husbands.” [4]

Although it sounds nice to make everybody a graduate, it does not really benefit society and our problems. Social education is education that can erase the term “learned fool”.

Situations That May Prevent Social Education

Inertia law in physics states that there is a tendency for bodies to maintain the state of motion. Nature resists change. Therefore, the biggest obstacle in social education initiative will be the resistance of the society that does not want to be educated.

Various expressions like “you cannot put new wine in old bottles” will confront those who are committed to the ideal of social education at every stage. Therefore, those who want to educate should first equip themselves. They should develop their qualities such as perseverance, perseverance, persuasiveness.

Another obstacle to social education is the one coming from “above”. Rulers or the wealthy may want to use their influence to prevent this educational initiative. For example, in Turkey, it is said that the Village Institutes that remained open between 1936-1954 were closed at the request of the landlords. Because the peasants did not consult the landlord in all their affairs as before, landlords’ influence was decreasing. [5]

Another danger to social education is that educators become radicalized by change in the face of difficulties and start to inflict the damage they criticize. Nietzsche expressed this danger in one of his books: “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. When you gaze long into the abyss the abyss also gazes into you.”

Those who adopt the ideal of education should develop self-control mechanisms and not be afraid of constructive criticism. Only in this way is it possible to get rid of “becoming monstrous”.


The biggest problem in the world is anything that harms people. The damages given to nature are also within the scope of the damage caused by the human.

Problems are divided into three categories: “short term”, “medium term”, “long term”.

Short-term problems are problems that can be recovered within a century. Like war, internal turmoil or bad politics.

Medium-term problems are those whose damage extends from a few centuries to several millennia. Burning libraries, destroying information, and adopting discrimination are such problems.

Long-term problems, on the other hand, are those that cause permanent changes whose damage cannot be recovered for thousands of years. Global warming is a long-term problem.

When we look at the basis of all these problems, we see unconscious masses of people. Unconscious masses choose bad rulers, unconscious masses adopt discrimination, and unconscious masses harm nature.

Therefore, the basic solution is social education. The goal of social education is not to educate academically knowledgeable individuals, but to raise individuals who have adopted the principle of “not doing harm”. There are three main obstacles to social education. One is the society that resists change, the second is the influential focuses who do not want their interests to be harmed, and the third is the radicalization of the educators and their transformation into what they criticize.

Bibliography (Turkish)

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