I believe that better way to improve societies is through systemic changes. Providing everyone access to clean drinking water reduces disease. Improving lighting through a city reduces crime. Providing free education and libraries increases literacy.
I said the better way because there will still be disease, crime and illiteracy, but you greatly reduce this ills if you do this simple (but not necessarily easy) things.
I thought of this when I watched Bill Clinton speaking at this TED conference (See here). He talks about the approach they took to driving down the cost of drugs for HIV/AIDS. What I like about it is that it is a systematic approach they took: improve the supply chain, change the business model, be economical in the best sense of the term. The result is more medicine for more people which results in people living longer and better lives.
It is a common wish that everyone should live longer and better lives. But in going from the wish to the fulfillment, people can get tangled up in ideology, philosophy, and all sorts of things that don’t promote the very thing they want.
Applying systematic changes will often get us 80% of the way from wish to fulfillment. 100% might be best, but 80% is much better than 0%. And that’s why I believe that better way to improve societies is through systemic changes.
I can’t recommend the TED site highly enough.