Averting global catastrophes by adjusting our outlook
|reposted from http://thetelcomstrategist.blogspot.com
Simple Solutions to Complex Problems
Common wisdom has it that one should be highly suspicious of simple solutions to complex problems. Then again, Einstein managed to boil it down to E=MC2, so who are we to say it can't be done? For those of you still of a mind to be dismissive, spend some time mulling over the countless ways in which current megatrends can interact with one another, forget mini and micro trends, such that supercomputers have to be brought in, and THEN they have to be interlinked with one another, and THEN scenario building has to be interjected, because as it turns out all the interlinked brain power -- artificial or otherwise -- in the world isn't enough to crack these intractable problems in the absence of imagining one alternate future at a time (hence the value of scenario building)... and well, trust me, those of you who eschew simple answers to complex problems might be singing a different tune.
So before we bend ourselves out of shape wondering how an exploding human population is going to interact with diminishing arable farm lands (due to soil erosion, water scarcity, et al)... and how these forces in turn will intersect with drastic weather anomalies secondary to global warming that exacerbates desertification in an already bad year when billions cannot afford the cost of rice that they could barely afford in a good year... and let's not forget that guy with the suitcase nuke that everyone has been expecting to turn up at the worst possible time, like say following a stock market crash secondary to an imploding Middle East... And before you go factoring in that the Euro is finally strong enough for global investors to switch their currency in reserve -- the American Greenback - in favor of the Euro... single-handedly crashing the U.S. economy overnight... and all these forces coming together like the lightning sparks in a Tesla sphere to drive the phase shift into Global Armageddon that no amount of counteractive measures will dissipate by any number of world banks... and...
Well, what if you could throw one simple solution at all this? One cure-all? Call it the umbrella solution sheltering all your other panaceas without necessarily negating the need for any of them. But helping to drive and inform them. Helping to coordinate them. Would it be worth at least considering?
Especially when it's easier by the day to consider how unavoidable it is for any number of by-themselves-unstoppable forces -- any one capable of bringing down the global economy -- to cross paths with and reinforce any number of other "world killers?" Did I forget to mention China coming on strong with the insurgent might of 4 U.S. economies in its heyday - quite capable of throwing us into another imperialistic age with them and not the U.S. on top, and the rest of us playing the part of banana republics? Speaking of just retribution. How about the depletion of the ozone layer? Just because it's old news -- and there has been such a spectacular cornucopia of world killers to manifest since, doesn't mean the problem's solved. Maybe that H.A.A.R.P. device in Alaska really is designed to trigger earthquakes from a distance. And even more broadly, to control weather from a distance. After all, won't future wars likely be fought over weather, considering the ever-diminishing access to food and water amidst exploding world populations? Can a super computer even keep track of the INDIVIDUAL world killers before it starts to contemplate, along with its human task masters, what might actually happen when these forces start to intersect to reinforce one another? Okay, I'm starting to beat a dead horse...
So, here's my easy fix...
Work with me, people. As no one seems to have ANY kind of fix, easy or otherwise.
What if we applied the "He Ain't Heavy; He's My Brother?" principle? What if instead of an every man for himself approach, we switched our focus to seeing what we can do to help the other guy get ahead? What if we saw that as our PRIMARY responsibility? Certainly shoring up our interpersonal relationships can add a measure of insurance in an uncertain age. So one could argue that it is perhaps the most-self-serving act we could embark upon. We could even argue that in a contrasting age of certainty, this cross-indebtedness to our fellow man, wherein everyone is beholden to everyone else -- to a great degree -- is little more than a formula for entropy. As it can be quite exhausting saving others,, as Christ will tell you. Hell, as your local neighborhood "Big Brother" will tell you. But following on I Ching logic, that times of crises are also times of immense opportunity... let's play this out in our heads.
What if the "six degrees of separation" world can only arise during such times of uncertainty, where we are cajoled, coaxed, and pressured into looking out for one another as part of our own survival? During such auspicious historical moments we embed ourselves firmly in catch nets of cross indebtedness so that no one falls through the finely woven mesh, one that weaves itself daily, making those holes between strands smaller and smaller with each act of loving kindness.
What if, in our darkest hour, we unleashed human potential in ways that simply weren't possible before? Because the cauldron wasn't right for forging man into superman, the inhuman pressures simply weren't great enough. This is an extension of the old adage, things must get worse before they can get better. But how much worse? Any addict will tell you about the importance of bottoming out. Maybe we should take note. Maybe it is only in our darkest hour that a new age can be born. One that is as different as what came before as day from night.
Think of what exists now by contrast. Little upward mobility. A hyper-political reality where only the fastest swimming of sharks have any chance or rising to the top. And most people will not only be stuck where they're at now in a caste system in the U.S. that rivals if not surpasses what India had for generations, they will experience far worse. They will see the loss of what marginal standing they have in the hierarchy as joblessness lurks around the corner with the next wave of computer hardware and software upgrades that allow those at the top to make do with even less of those of us at the middle and at the bottom. Is this reality not the polar opposite of mutual empowerment? Where you're not only expected to be stuck where you are forever, you're expected to whither and die. It's the charitable thing to do so the guy who could never get a job might actually be able to eek out a substandard living before he too perishes. I don't even know what those people in China do where things are supposed to be TEN TIMES WORSE. Yikes.
So right now if I have a screenplay to sell -- that's ten times better than any that has ever been written -- does it really matter? I'm either "in the loop" or I'm not. If I have some invention that can wean us from our global oil addiction once and for all, does it matter? I'm either in the loop, or I'm not. Hugh Laurie said it best when accepting his Oscar, "It's about having the opportunity to act" -- to make a difference. We have all the mind power in the world to solve any and all possible problems. Only we've cut ourselves off from the tap.
But one thing can turn it around. And it's as simple as curing your narcissism. Eschewing what you can do to get ahead and focusing on what you can do to help others get ahead. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Enlightened minds wrestle with paradoxes better than others. So I'd ask most of us simply to take it on faith, that by focusing on nothing other than saving the world -- starting with that guy next to you -- the most impossible task of all, will make the far more reasonable task of saving yourself possible. And it is only by doing the impossible that we make a sober, more plausible, pragmatic, down to earth world possible. To get to possible, you have to push through impossible. To get to possible by ignoring the impossible... well, that's how we got where we are now. So by all means, if you want more of the same, then keep doing what you're doing.
Yes, the world becomes impossibly difficult, and the smallest of deeds becomes akin to Sisyphus pushing that boulder up hill the second we lose sight of our common humanity and our common task - to empower one another. Turn that coin over, however, do nothing more than switch our outlook -- and all that was impossibly difficult becomes ridiculously easy. We enter flow state. Something artists have understood profoundly for time immemorial. Champion athletes call it "entering the zone." The least of us can find our way into this zone by the smallest acts of loving kindness. And the most intractable of world problems simply melts away.
All the big picture analyses, contemplating the weave of the fabric of life, will not give us an ounce of control over our destiny. But this one simple thing will: Acts of loving kindness.
Sometimes simple solutions really are the best.