My friend Hans wrote these words following a workshop we were at last week:
“We should want to abandon that which has no future. We should blow right through mere sustainability. We should desire a world of enhancement. That is what should come next.
We should want to expand the options of those who will follow us. We don’t need more dead clutter to entomb in landfills. We need more options.
It needs to happen. It must happen. It is going to happen.”
Can we imagine that? Does our generation even have the possibility to imagine a world where human activity leads to enhancement? Where we are expanding the options of our children?
I can imagine that previous generations (and many in the current one) believed that they were enhancing the world and expanding the options for us. And in some ways they were and they did, but there were a lot of unintended side effects.
One of the enhancements bequeathed us has been a visceral learning on some of the many things that don’t work.
Perhaps this is the test of what we should be doing now and next – Will it expand the options of all those who follow?
We are part of an evolutionary cycle. Survival is not mandatory (to partially quote WE Demming). Species that prove themselves fit to survive do, those that don’t, don’t. If we are not enhancing the options for all those who follow, we are already in decline.
The critical word in that sentence is “all”. Without it we can be deceived into believing that somehow one grouping could survive without the others. We are already a global community, there is good evidence that we largely spring from just two African parents 200,000 years ago (with a little bit of Neanderthal mixed in).
Our success as a species has largely come about through collaboration. It has been one of the keys to our evolutionary success. Our failures as a species have come about through imagining that one person, one tribe, one group, one company or one nation can succeed at the expense of others.
It is time to learn this lesson.
Competition does not need to be destructive. Competition can be enhancing, the greatest sporting heroes are the ones who have strong competitors not weak ones.
Our own happiness and wellbeing are diminished by the suffering of others, not enhanced by it.
As individuals, companies or countries our fortunes and seldom improved, in the long term, by the failures of others.
I think of all life on earth as being like cells in the body of a single organism. Each cell has its role to play and if some cells die off the organism as a whole is weakened. So often we behave as if there is some advantage in the brain winning out against the heart.
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