It is a delicate balance to know how much the world is messed up and still be hopeful about the future. This is something I dance with on a daily basis — while writing about systemic corruption, the angst that arises from isolation and loneliness, and other aspects of the mental disease that comes with living through the death stage of capitalism.
It can be really tough.
Yet I find myself hopeful because the more I learn about what it means to be human, the more I see how profoundly social and cooperative we can be when we put our minds to an important task. And as humanity goes through the immense period of global change we are in now, there are only going to be more opportunities to practice our basic human capacities for empathy and compassion.
I’d like to get more personal for a moment and share some of what I have learned on my own journey into this struggle. This video is my message for all of you out there who have been following my work in recent months:
The more we look for solutions to our collective problems, we find that indeed there are solutions! This is deeply inspiring. So much is known about political and economic history; the evolutionary past that gave rise to the human condition; tools and frameworks for increasing the efficacy of groups; and much more.
What we need to keep in mind is that this period of history is anything but normal. It’s supposed to feel stressful. We shouldn’t expect all to be going well when so much disruption is happening around us.
Yet this is not cause for despair. Merely watch as disasters unfold to see how richly we reconnect with our humanity during times of need. People can overcome incredible hardships and face unimaginable suffering to provide for their loved ones under threat of harm. And so it shall be that we can work toward more compassionate responses to the next crisis we find ourselves in (because there WILL be more).
Learn how to see the ways that social systems are rigged and you will begin to recognize the “tricks of the trade” used to keep them in place. From here adesigner’s mind can be actively working to dismantle the structures, policies, and practices that gave rise to those in power today. Their divide-and-conquer tactics only work on us if we don’t know how they work.
See the logic of extraction for what it is and you’ll quickly observe that better options exist for the manner in which we run our businesses and conduct our political campaigns. Look abroad and you’ll note that other cultures have figured out solutions that can be adapted to your own situation to make things better for all involved.
We don’t have to sit back and watch civilization collapse around us. There is much that can be done to evolve our political and economic systems by learning how they function and seeing our part in perpetuating them. From such a vantage point it becomes possible to pivot — turn in a new direction and guide our own relationships toward communities with different values and objectives.
There is more to life than “winning” with the most toys as the world is killed in the process. There are better ways to cultivate leadership in society than who can buy off the most corporate sponsors. And yes, dear friends, there are better ways to be husbands, wives, sons, and daughters in a world that celebrates life rather than diminishes it for short-term gain.
I believe in us. And I remain vigilantly hopeful about the future.
Onward, fellow humans.
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Joe Brewer - I am a change strategist working on behalf of humanity, and also a complexity researcher, cognitive scientist, and evangelist for the field of culture design.