Note — Jun 27, 2021

How to Think Beyond Ourselves

Is homo sapiens sapiens that sapiens (wise) after all? For much or our history, we have been wholly focused on our selves, our survival, our accomplishments, to the point of naming an epoch after ourselves. But this “we,” this “us” is just one instance of humanity, one version (one colonizing part, really) of how we can be on this planet, one outlook that we’ve had for a couple of centuries. James Cartwright of Weapons of Reason reminds us of other living beings who also accomplish a lot, also collaborate, and that we humans also, once, and still in some places, valued the commons quite a bit more, shared better, respected our surroundings, and didn’t use this planet as simply a pile of resources to exploit.

Our innate gift for storytelling has facilitated unmatched societal cohesion, but our proclivity for telling stories that are wholly anthropocentric means we often forget that our success on Earth has not been achieved alone. “Survival of the fittest”, the survival of Homo sapiens sapiens, depends on the support of a complex network of fragile symbiotic relationships that is increasingly at risk. […]

Humanity’s hubris and oversimplified world view has fostered an epidemic of short-term thinking resulting in catastrophic consequences time and again. Short-term thinking has trapped us in a repetitive feedback loop, making the same mistakes, doing further damage to our planetary and societal systems and unable to find a way out. […]

[T]he story of how we lost the commons, how the Earth’s natural resources, once so bountiful, were stolen and continue to be sold back to us, and how the shared wealth of social capital passed down from previous generations has been captured by a select few.