Big take-home message from w 3-4

Weeks 3 and 4 consisted of lectures and seminars, feeding us material and perspectives for our end-of-course essay.

Although some lectures have been fantastic (especially from honorary guests Susan Senecah and Hans Peter Hansen), they have not exactly inspired me to blog, and I want to save writing about my extracurricular activities for a later stage.

However, I want to write shortly about a clear, larger message from the lectures that I found touching. This could easily derail into a personal rant. Bare with me:

Facing the large and small environmental challenges, we need to take purposeful and effective action, both as a collective and as individuals. All of us. For the rest of our lives.

This, of course, requires personal motivation and know-how, as well as top-quality teamwork. For all this, communication is key. We need to help each other understand the problems and what we can do about them — to the best of our abilities.

The best shot we have at solving multidimensional challenges with solutions that are desirable, viable and actionable to diverse groups of people, on varying and interacting scales, with more complications than anything you could spell and their mothers… the best shot we have at this is stepping outside of our own shells and facing at least one eye toward the bigger picture.

We all have the future in common.

It makes sense to look after it.

Right now the future is suffering from our inability to deal with our own fears and disillusion, seeking refuge in short-term pleasures and hoping to feel valued and loved through our social status, rather than what we bring to others.

Some look to the the way things were and herald it as the golden age, where we must return. Others believe in technology to paint a brighter future. Many place their hope in science and other intelligent people to come with a miracle to save us all, but they are still arguing about whether the glass is half full or half empty, and what if it wasn’t…

I mean, why not just fill the glass up…?

What do we need to fill it? Let’s first think about what the hole really is. I believe we mostly are missing a sense of meaning in our lives and a sense of being loved and cared for by those we love and care for.

Let me ask you: Has there recently been a technological invention that brings us closer to our loved ones? Have the scholars discovered the formula for a meaningful live?

The answer is of course yes. (What?) Absolutely! I mean, we haven’t found the answer, but some damn good answers and tools are out there. But is everybody using these advances to fill the deeper holes in their lives? No.

And why not? Why does it still depend on the individual whether this new technology and scientific knowledge is used to make their lives better? Why do some people seem to be destroying their own chances at lasting happiness with these tools?

There are probably a thousand different answers for millions and millions of different people. A perhaps better question is: since it depends so much on the individual whether scientific advances are used for the better, does it really make sense to hope for science to ‘save us all’?

An extreme example of this, just to hammer down this point, is the atomic bomb.

Back to filling the hole… think about what it takes.

That’s right: other people. Family and friends. Relationships. Camaraderie. Communion.

This solves all our problems: we let our friends deal with it…!

No, but when we take care of our people, and our people take care of us, we lose the need for a quick shot of short-term feel-good or compromising on our morals and passion to climb the social ladder.

The need to rush a thundering, petrol-thirsty SUV to a crammed supermarket to buy milk before they close is calmed when you know you can just ask the neighbours for a cup. They’re thrilled to help you with something so simple. And they love the little treehouse you built for their children and yours to play in. Their little Oscar wants to help out next time, so he can learn too. He really looks up to you.

Knowing your co-workers have your back and respect your voice, because they value your friendship and what you’ve done for the company already, you might find the courage to speak out about the new deal they’re about to strike with a mining company looking to expand to a region full of native villages that depend entirely on their lands to grow food and the river for clean water. These are families, like yours. They would be forced to abandon their homes with nowhere to go, or starve and drink polluted water. Expressing your moral outrage at this proposal, you find actually many of your team mates agree, and others were not aware until you brought it up. The deal is scrapped, and the company loses potential revenue, but you are a strong bunch and stand together to find another opportunity you can all feel good about.

We could go on and on forever… but I hope you’re really thinking about this. Please do share your thoughts in the comments below. Even if you think I’m full of it!

To avoid this post getting too long, I want to cut with a short clip, a talk by Simon Sinek. I intend to dedicate an entire post to him, coming soon… For now, enjoy.

By seen0001

My name is Sebastian, but I’ve been called many nicknames under the sun: Seb, Sebbe, Sebban, Sebbi, Sebbzor, Seabass, Bob, Harry Potter, Spiderman, “The Man. The Myth. The Legend.” I am in many ways a practical optimist, an entertainer, and a solid friend. My current mission is to help the next generation live even better lives than we have. How I strive for this will evolve with time, and certainly with this course! I am interested in pretty much everything that has to do with life — life on this planet, it’s evolution, and the lives of people, in history and here and now — and the culmination is my endless strive to live life fully.

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