"That's not real life," complained my wife when I gave our 16-year-old daughter $20 to go to the movies. My wife is less than pleased that our daughter didn't manage (yet) to get a summer job, wants to keep the pressure on our daughter so that she continues to pound the pavement looking for a job, and thinks that just giving people money when they ask for it is close to ludicrous (or at least not "real life").
The "real life" comment got me thinking and that's always dangerous. Other than the fact that I believe I'm both real and a life form and so is my daughter and I did give her $20 so it is therefore by definition "real life" in at least this one instance, it seems to me that what really distinguishes humans from all of the other life forms on the planet is the fact that we shape our own reality. Chimps, crows, etc. use simple tools when convenient and ants, bees, birds, etc. build structures, but humans create their own subjective reality on a grand scale and this subjective reality is only tenuously related to an objective reality of which we know little and generally don't think much about.
Our subjective realities are only related to objective reality by the minor detail that we have to survive. But survival really only requires some food, some minimal amount of clothing, some shelter to protect us from the elements when the clothing is not going to cut it, and perhaps a few other minor things. After we cover the bare necessities of life, all other resources can be used to create our subjective realities which need not have anything to do with objective reality.
As we grow richer and richer, we need fewer and fewer people and resources to cover the basics. In the United States for example, we need less than 3% of the population to produce all of our food (and if we weren't picky we could probably do it with substantially fewer resources still) and we could probably cover the bare minimum of clothing and shelter with an even smaller percentage of GDP than that. The other 90+% of GDP can be dedicated to ignoring objective reality.
The problem is that we don't agree on how to structure our subjective reality. I greatly prefer the autonomy of the individual and freedom from government interference. Others want to pool the sum total of resources for collective deployment. Still others want a highly religious subjective reality of some form or another. And so forth. All of these subjective realities, given the fuel of 90+% of GDP, can work for a long time.
However, as long as there are ever increasing conflicts between people because of conflicting desires for different types of subjective realities, the stability of society is going to be a bit of a fragile thing. The fact of the matter is that the Left would be far better off if the Right was to disappear from the earth and vice-versa. It's debatable whether or not they'd be materially better off, but to be free to live unopposed within their subjective reality would no doubt be a great boon.
And given this, I wonder if one day there will be a great extermination war between the ideologies. If each side thinks they'd be better off with the other side gone, what's to stop that from happening?