Book Review: Better Than We Found It

Alexis Stockford, Contributor Ω

Image courtesy Better Than We Found It

Image courtesy Better Than We Found It

Darrell Park taps into the power of the people in his book, Better Than We Found It: Simple Solutions to Some of the Worlds Toughest Problems, published in the spring of 2012. From better education to green energy and peace in the Middle East, Park examines a variety of issues and explains how ordinary people can work to resolve them.

The book’s greatest strength is that it relates everybody to worldwide problems. Park gets readers thinking seriously about the issues that affect their world and offers solutions “without lots of technical jargon or hard-to-read footnotes” and “[offers] the opportunity for readers to become everyday activists without having to spend lots of time doing so,” as his introduction states.

Most of Park’s ideas are insightful or, at the very least, thought-provoking. I especially enjoyed the sections that focus on environmental issues. Park argues strongly for the adoption of clean, renewable energy and offers some very interesting ideas on how to make the transition attractive to both the consumer and power companies.

His ideas on incorporating social media into school curriculums were interesting from a student perspective. More and more aspects of our society are based online, and it only makes sense to equip our younger generation with the tools to handle this new environment responsibly.

Park squeezes more than 50 topics into 250 pages. Let’s do a reality check here. Most of these problems are huge. Any single one could take up a book all on its own. As a result, almost all of the issues Park discusses are oversimplified. His arguments rely on logic and common sense rather than science and statistics. While this makes the book easy to read, it also affects Park’s credibility with more discerning readers. Argument without evidence is little more than a rant, and at times Park skirts dangerously close to that line.

I also found some of Park’s ideas impractical or flawed. For example, corruption in assigning American military contracts is an important issue, but the public has very little influence on this process. The average consumer has nothing to do with potential military contractors and those companies have little reason to take general opinion into account. Park’s proposed solution relies on an unprecedented level of public pressure on a government that even Park admits is heavily influenced by big business.

Another of Park’s ideas revolves around mandatory national service to foster greater connection between youths and their country. This idea has some serious logical gaps. Being required to build roads or perform manual labour won’t necessarily foster patriotic feelings in youth. To the average person, this plan sounds like labour conscription and a massive violation of individual rights.

While it presents narrow and oversimplified views of world issues, Better Than We Found It is still worth the read. It makes a decent attempt at empowering average citizens to take on issues they have always regarded as out of their control. While it’s not a roadmap to solving all of the world’s problems, it is a starting point for people to expand on solutions themselves.