It’s being reported that the Earth has lost half its wildlife in the last forty years. Even if this were only half true it would be catastrophic.
We’re a dangerous species using the resources of one-and-a-half planets and not living in as nearly a safe place when we think we are.
‘Sapiens instinctively divide humanity into two parts, ‘us’ and ‘them’.’*
It’s possible that it was the Roman historian Tacitus who fabricated the Scottish chief Calgacus, reporting him as saying of the Roman Empire: ‘to plunder, slaughter and robbery they give the lying name of empire; they make a desert and call it peace’.*
While empire brings standardisation and wipes out distinctiveness, it’s a double-edged sword as it also brings together people who would have normally been enemies. We have the tendency to count ourselves as the most important: there are Dinku people in Sudan – dinku means people. Their enemy are the Nuer people – which means original people. In Alaska and Siberia there are the Yupiks – meaning real people. Yuval Noah Harari names us the xenophobic species.
There are smaller empires, too, including those who seek to control others by manipulating. Donald Miller names five kinds of manipulator: the scorekeeper who controls the score, the judge who’s always right, the hero who promises to deliver the future, the fearmonger who rules by fear, and the flopper who controls by seeking sympathy and attention.** None of us are exempt from trying some of these out from time to time.
‘Gifts are best described, I think, as anarchist property.’^
What is the human future?
Personally, I don’t think we’ve seen the best of us yet.
WD-40 is the lubricant spray in a yellow and blue tin most of us will have had sight of at some time in our lives. The name stands for Water Displacement – 40th formulation. There were thirty-nine other formulas that didn’t work. How many human formulations have we seen – depending on how we measure this. Have we got to our 40th? I don’t think it’s so much a time thing. There have been those throughout history, from all walks of life and of different beliefs, who’ve lived, somehow, a more human life. Those whose lives have been more about service – their gift – than about trying to control or empire build. I’m not sure we’ll ever see the end of empires, but those who are disruptive are a significant force, improving life for everyone.
These words are from Ratan Tata who built his own empire but later in life came to see the value of failure (replace the word company with human race and employees with people):
“Failure is a gold mine. It’s the only way to foster innovation, keep the company fresh and reward employees for trying new theories.”^^