“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”-Desmond Tutu
Before you continuing reading this piece, write out three(3) areas that could bane or boom human race development, and drop it as comments after you finished reading.
Innovation and scientific discovery has, for the most parts, been fantastic for the human species for thousands of years. From the invention of fire, giving us the ability to cook food and gain extra energy from it, leading to us to be able to have bigger brains and more intelligence has meant we have, without any doubt, become the dominant species on earth today.
But, if you will, let’s compare humanity to one of the other truly successful species that has survived on this planet for 320 million years: the humble cockroach. Modern humans have been around for a mere 200,000 years (approximately) on this planet. That’s just 0.06% of the time cockroaches have thrived (and survived through numerous mass extinction events).
My point is, success is highly subjective. Is longevity and survival, or intelligence the most important characteristic when defining the success of a species?
Many philosophers and scientists have made solid arguments that high intelligence is a hindrance to the long-term success of a species.
So I present three imaginary futures for the human race. I think it’s time, as a globally united species, we start to think about the decisions we make today and where they may lead us in the future.
Intelligence (medical advances and improved diet), and mostly the discovery of fossil fuels (giving us access to millions of years of energy stored from the sun that we are burning through at an alarming rate in just a fraction of our existence!), has brought with it a massive explosion in population. Since the 1930’s, the world population has grown from 2 billion to about 7.5 billion today. Almost all that growth has come in the past 45 years.
But this has come at a high cost. Environmental destruction, extreme inequality around the world, among other things.
What typically happens when any organism or species grows faster than it’s environment can naturally support? Indeed, a rather rapid correction in population numbers occurs. We observe this in nature almost continuously. As humans, traditionally we have curtailed our population by great wars, mostly World Wars. But these wars are a regular occurrence for thousands of years of history.
I see the world heading towards an uncertain future today, with erratic election results (Buhari, Brexit, Trump), rises in nationalism and protectionism, power being centralized and consolidated in China, Russia and a multitude of other countries. Dissatisfaction levels are rising in the middle and lower income groups of society at an alarming rate. Helped by modern technology giving them insight to how the rest of the world lives, while they are left behind in poverty.
The ultimate result? Massive civil unrest and, just as history as played out many times before, a massive redistribution of wealth by violent revolution. 0.1% of the population can’t really expect to hold 40% of the world’s wealth without the other 4 billion eventually deciding they are going to chop off their heads and take it back and spread it back out (French Revolution!).
Certainly not a pleasing case!
Technology and science comes to the rescue. We find ways to stop destroying the planet, we develop ways to feed the growing population properly and fairly and without using oil-derived fertilizers, and the capitalist system (I’d argue nowadays true capitalism has been dead for a long time, but that’s another article) is reformed and starts to truly redistribute wealth in a fair way.
It’s certainly possible, but first, perhaps we need to evolve emotionally as humans at a much fast faster. Still, the vast majority of us operate on our inbuilt hardwired instincts. Namely: survival and putting yourself first (selfishness). This may work great in small groups – but when you are talking about an entire species, it isn’t helpful at all. We literally cause our very own self-destruction.
We are only recently starting to discover and understand that some types of the longest surviving organisms on the planet, namely bacteria, have evolved mechanisms to control population overload naturally. They join forces and start working together, sharing food and other resources and dramatically slowing or even halting reproduction. In short, they ensure their collective survival.
Can we pull off our complicated version of this? Come together as a species and all survive without massive bloodshed? A good start would be if the top 0.1% of even the 1000 richest people on the planet began to distribute their wealth in a fair unselfish way (before they have it forcibly removed from them – which believe me – will happen eventually – history categorically tells us this!). As mentioned before, we need to speed up our ’emotional evolution’ or empathy rapidly. Who can truly justify to themselves that they need to hold on to personal fortunes of 100’s of millions or billions of dollars? It’s just utterly delusional [for the record I’m not anti-capitalist: innovating, taking risks and working hard to solve problems should certainly generate healthy rewards, but to not to the absurd levels we see today – and we see examples even worse like Marissa Mayer running a company into the ground in a few years and walking away with $180m (and she is just one of many) – are we all insane to allow this to continue?].
The Paris Climate Accord was another good step in the right direction, but again we’ve taken another step backwards thanks to Mr Trump.
Can we as species evolve away from our selfishness and inflated egos quickly enough to allow solutions which I believe we can achieve (technologically speaking) to come to our rescue, and perhaps buy us another 10,000 or 100,000 years of life?
A shout out to Bill Gates and Elon Musk for trying to lead the way here (at least to some extent).
Again, technology to the rescue. Robots, automation, artificial intelligence, nuclear fusion should and can all become realities in the next few decades (given proper funding and sweeping aside the anti-progression big oil and banking lobbies who have so much to lose). It will provide us with (humanity as a whole) the ability to have almost unlimited resources and vast amounts of personal time – no longer slaves to ‘work’. Everybody gets to have a decent basic standard of living, no matter where they were born.
And we evolve. We become enlightened. We transcend: beyond our inbuilt selfish instincts and focus on sharing this amazing gift called earth by doing good for each other, and other species we are privileged to share it with – and ultimately collaborate to ensure the survival of all. Money becomes irrelevant to some extent, as if resources such as food and energy are abundant and virtually free, we don’t need to judge or fight each other. Instead, we can work together to solve the problems as and when they arise.
History is scattered with prophets who foresaw a future and gave us solid advice. Mohamed, Jesus, Buddha, Yogananda, Plato, [add as many as more as you can think of], and I’d even include Gene Roddenberry (creator of Star Trek and other Humanists). And why do most religions warn of a potential apocalypse? Logic dictates when populations reach melting points; selfish behaviour ensures self-destruction. It certainly doesn’t take a genius mind to work this out.
Today I argue we are on the cusp, for the first time ever in human history, to have the scientific knowledge and technology to take one giant leap forward as a species and completely change the world. We have the chance to take a giant step towards ‘utopia’ where people feel unburdened, free, none-judged and fairly treated; and thus able to pursue the morality and purity implanted deep within the soul of all of us.
Entrepreneurship, as a young entrepreneur growing up I always thought business was about making money and philanthropy was about doing good. But over the past few years I’ve come to realize that both can be used as methods for changing the world. For me philanthropy is now part of who I am not what I want to achieve when I get older. And giving back to the community is a way of life. It’s not something I think about or a task I need to do, it’s second nature to me.
Now even though I do this year in year out with no real expectation of any direct financial gain over time I’ve noticed a few ways my businesses have benefited by giving to charitable causes. The first real benefit is employee engagement and the respect members develop for you and the organization. Once your team see and feel that you are in business not just for the money but also to make a difference in your community/world they not only grow a greater level of respect for you but feel a deeper sense of commitment to perform at their best day in day out..
A strong network is like money in the bank. Your network can help you build visibility, connect you with influencers, and open up doors for new opportunities. Building and nurturing a network is one of the most powerful things you can do for your success in business.
And how to get there? All it takes is a change in thinking, attitude and education – and some peer pressure. And we have the tools almost ready to today to spread this message to the entire planet. Something our ancient advisors didn’t have (but still did quite a good job considering!).
Let’s stop wasting our time with mindless consumerism, petty competitiveness and all the associated selfishness. Let’s ensure the survival of our very own species. It should be priority number one. And if not for strangers, do it for your grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great great great great great x 100 grandchildren.