Why does our future seem so problematic?

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Picture Credit: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Why does our future seem so problematic?

This essay explains why modern technology has transformed our world in ways that favor cooperation and compassion.    

As Einstein noted, the unparalleled catastrophe of nuclear war will eventually result unless we radically change our way of thinking. But since he died, climate change, the invention of other weapons of mass destruction and related issues have driven home the need to reduce our focus on achieving victory in service of greedy materialism.   

When most people were basically self sufficient peasant farmers, productivity would not have noticeably increased if people were more cooperative and compassionate. But post-modern workers generally need to coordinate our work with other members of complex supply chains and we also rely on others to make the products and services we consume. Therefore,  productivity in our inter-dependent world of specialization would radically increase if everyone cared more about their suppliers, customers and co-workers.  The potential post-modern connection between cooperation and an increased desire to nurture our fellows is illustrated by the only other multi-million member societies of specialists. Having lived in inter-dependent societies of millions of specialists for billions of generations, trial and error has taught social insects and the cells which comprise multi-celled animals that far deeper levels of cooperation are the most efficient way to organize their societies. In practice, the truly deep levels of cooperation which they exhibit are always associated with sharing and service of the greater good. Now that we have recently developed similarly inter-dependent societies of specialists, we will also eventually realize that maximizing productivity requires a comparably deep level of cooperation.  

Despite the huge productivity and survival related advantages associated with deep cooperation cited so far, those who defend the greed, fear and victory focused status quo argue that it is unnatural for humans to become more cooperative, long term oriented and focused on serving the needs of others. But if being cooperative and nurturing is so unnatural for humans, why do almost all of us prefer interacting with friends, family, lovers and others who genuinely care about our needs and whose happiness we care about?

In terms of the key issue of behavior, all the major holy books agree that we should “give more, take less and lovingly serve the greater good.” Even if you are an atheist, isn’t it telling that most humans have revered those who advocate kindness, love and compassion? Not only do we admire saints, heroes and teachers who demonstrate the inherent value of lovingly serving the greater good, but almost all forms of culture portray love and harmony as positive attributes.

My point is that the more nurturing and cooperative way of thinking required for long-term survival and maximizing productivity are exactly what our hearts and souls yearn for. Considering that most people continuing to pursue short term partisan gain is clearly leading us to a worse future, why not consider a less victory oriented and more cooperative alternative?                                       

The reason that people, nations and groups are vacillating from one political and social extreme to the other is that the types of changes seen as realistic are based on increasingly obsolete “me versus you” and “us versus them” thinking. Not knowing how to deal with the unprecedented problems of the post-modern world, we seem to be retreating to obsolete predatory, elitist and fear based ideas.

Precisely because so many realize that continuing on our present path is not working, the potential for a mass movement supporting a more cooperative, compassionate and egalitarian world exists. Why not take a moment to show that you agree by posting this essay on your social media account, passing it on in other ways and discussing the basic points regarding cooperation and compassion whenever possible. Once enough of us believe that most of our fellows are receptive, the behavioral, societal and other changes necessary to co-create such a world will follow. If you want more information or to share your views, please write:   

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