I have an interest in string theory, and some of the ideas that intrigue me most are those involving the multiverse theory, which posits that our universe is not the only game in town; there are many universes that exist parallel to each other. Each of these universes is called (you guessed it) a parallel universe.

There are several ideas regarding the nature of the universe. One idea goes like this: because the universe is so big, the rules of probability imply the existence of planets out there identical to Earth. Put another way, in an infinitely large universe having a finite amount of basic building blocks, the number of planets would also be infinite, but there would be repetition. On some of those planets, events would unfold exactly like they do on Earth. That means, even on another planet trillions of light years away, I am still balding and need to lose a few pounds. Terrific.

But what if events on another Earth in some parallel universe didn’t play out exactly as they do here? What if the people on that other Earth are peaceful, honest and compassionate? What if their civilization is focused on pursuing the heights of human knowledge and self-actualization? What if, on that other world, people like Malcom X, Chico Mendes and Pat Tillman lived long, productive lives, while people like Henry Kissinger, Dick Cheney and Prescott Bush died at childbirth?

All this makes me wonder: is it possible we are living in an evil parallel universe?

I think we actually have unlimited possibilities here on this version of Earth. The current systems underpinning human civilization were simply made up by people who came before us. Based on how things are working out, I’m guessing they didn’t have our best interests in mind. More likely, they were looking to amass wealth and entrench themselves in powerful positions, both of which are passed to their offspring. Like me, you probably aren’t in this club.

As bad as our situation appears to be at present, the good news is: it is not immutable. It can be changed. Each of us has the ability to realize that change, which starts within ourselves. If we change our minds, we change ourselves, and the world will follow. Consider the insights of those who came before us:

“What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: our life is the creation of our mind.” — Buddha

“The whole universe is change and life itself is what you deem it.” — Marcus Aurelius

“Nothing is miserable unless you think it so; and on the other hand, nothing brings happiness unless you are content with it.” — Boethius