By Berit Anderson

"We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil; all committed, for our safety, to its security and peace; preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work and the love we give our fragile craft.

"We cannot maintain it half fortunate, half miserable, half confident, half despairing, half slave - to the ancient enemies of man - half free in a liberation of resources undreamed of until this day. No craft, no crew can travel safely with such vast contradictions. On their resolution depends the survival of us all."

- Adlai Stevenson, addressing the UN Economic and Social Council in Geneva, Switzerland, July 9, 1965


It's time we addressed the elephant in the room.

The human race is operating within outdated, brittle social contracts and economic systems that are driving us toward our ultimate destruction.

Our society is designed around systems that optimize financial outcomes for a few while jeopardizing the long-term prospects for all of us and our life on this Earth.

This is revealed in a variety of ways:

  • Short-term financial growth as a measure of organizational and personal success on a planet with limited resources;

  • Competitive, nationalistic models that incentivize resource hoarding and increase global scarcity;

  • Addicting internet business models that encourage us to horde Likes and Shares while we become increasingly lonely and disconnected from our real-world friends and family;

  • International collaboration models that favor the needs of the most financially resourced nation-states over the greater good of humans as a whole; and

  • Migration models that severely limit the ability of humans around the world to survive violence and scarcity on the eve of unprecedented human migration.

These systems were created at a time when resource scarcity was not the greatest threat to the continuation of the human species; at a time when agriculture and technology didn't yet demand the destruction of human lifelines to support their supply chains; when population growth wasn't yet chafing at the limits of Earth's carrying capacity.

They were created before we understood the importance of the hundreds of thousands of other species on Earth that, even if we ignore their individual identities, intellects, and expressions, make it possible for humans to eat, breathe, and shelter ourselves.

And yet, each day human society begins anew, rising from bed and rubbing away the night's sleep without questioning the design or utility of the machines that will govern its day. Largely speaking, we wake up and accept things as they are, despite the clear path to human destruction they provide.

What conversations do take place in the public sphere are focused primarily on blame and destruction. This billionaire is at fault. This company is to blame. This country is terrible.

And while certain of these judgments may hold truth, they do nothing to create the conditions for a collective reimagining or renegotiation of these systems.

It would be more useful to start from scratch.

If we were to begin again, knowing what we know now, what values would we optimize for? What guidelines would we put in place to drive us, both individually and collectively, toward those values? On what timeline?