Last year, my friend Grace Vaughey and I entered National Geographic’s “Expedition Granted” competition with the following video:
Although we didn’t win the competition that would have gotten this documentary funded, the reaction was still well beyond what we could have hoped for, putting us second in popularity only behind a professional documentary filmmaker.
People were obviously curious to know more, to discuss and share ideas, to see how they could help. And so I decided to expand upon the video with this article.
Now before we get into the meat and bones, here’s a quick TooLong;Don’tRead for those of you who want the short and sweet.
We need to promote a culture that puts its efforts towards ethically developing technology that will cultivate renewable energy, smart resource management, and the kind of connectivity that breeds compassion. This will allow us to take the power from the greedy and give all of humanity a chance to live in a world where we can explore our passions without the fear that our homes and health are at constant risk.
And now the heart of the conversation:
We Are Gods. Why not build Utopia?
We live in a time where technology has granted us the ability as a species to give every human-being healthy food, clean water, healthcare, and housing, as well as the power to connect every individual while simultaneously giving ubiquitous access to all the world’s information via the internet. But this isn’t happening.
And why not? Why are there billions of people who struggle daily for these most fundamental rights? Largely, I would say, it’s because of the invisible boundaries that divide us; namely: religion and nationalism.
But I believe these things can be overcome without losing their value; I believe we can create a global world that ensures every single person is given the bare essentials of survival, as well as the opportunity for individualization.
Sure, it may sound idealistic or utopian, but is there a reason to strive for anything less than this? And is the concept of utopia even that unattainable anymore? Perhaps in our more primitive days it was, but we have access to godlike power now.
Don’t believe me? Let’s explore what a God is.
Wikipedia explains God as…“the Supreme Being. The concept of God as described by theologians commonly includes the attributes of omniscience (infinite knowledge), omnipotence (unlimited power), omnipresence (present everywhere), omnibenevolence (perfect goodness)…”
Now let’s take look at the attributes that qualify us as God.
Omniscience :Youtube tutorials, Wikipedia, shared-interest forums, or simply a Google search. Those connected to the internet, most likely by the smart phone at their hip, have constant access to the infinite knowledge of the known universe.
Omnipresence: Google Maps, Facetime, Skype. At any moment we can look all around the globe, to isolated mountain regions, to the cafe down the street, or into a friend’s eyes half the world away.
Omnipotence: Given the above two, the only thing stopping you from manifesting any desire(pursuing any passion) you can imagine is time and money, but we’d have an abundance of those things if we embraced the one main attribute we’re missing as gods…
…Omnibenevolence: Perfect goodness, which in my mind is simply the lack of ego and a constant sense of empathy, compassion, and appreciation.
So as the world changes, how do we access that Omnibenevolence?
Kill your ego and become a world citizen.
We must empathize with and appreciate the different cultures of the world, the different lives people have led that have shaped mentalities that differ from our own. What seems obvious and divine to some of us may seem corrupt and evil to others. But I would argue that this is because of the lack of exposure to information and communication, the lack of being able to find a cultural and empathetic middle ground where perspectives can be shared; and so I believe we need to promote a paradigm shift that will bring us together as world citizens, rather than as victims of regional indoctrinations that make us fear to think differently than those in power of our respective cultures.
It is this very ability to connect with people who don’t think like your indoctrinated core that allows you to feel empowered, to realize that you’re not crazy for your thoughts. The beginnings of this paradigm shift can be seen in the massive surge of human rights we’re currently experiencing: in places like Egypt where twitter was used to empower a people against tyranny; with the red equals sign for gay rights; with #yesallwomen being used to force a movement to overcome sexism; with #BlackLivesMatter bringing awareness to the issues of racism and police abuse. And in this way, the internet has become the meeting place for humanists to stand up against oppression. It is the platform that places the voice of the common person next to the aristocracy.
…the internet has become the meeting place for humanists to stand up against oppression. It is the platform that places the voice of the common person next to the aristocracy.
So how do we ethically option access to this Hive Mind?
This is the power every human should have: the chance to have their voice carry equal weight amongst their peers. But we need to be extremely mindful as we consider how to engage this complex shift. We must look at the risks as well as the benefits. How do we best give the disenfranchised in the world the ability to connect to the global conversation the internet has provided without profitizing the initiatives or turning the average child ( whether in the first world or in places like Kenya or the slums of India) into a virtual-reality-obsessed gamer who uses their phones to ward off true growth and connection in favor of Farmville? Would we only be exacerbating issues of consumerism (internet marketing) and narcissism (selfies) in communities whose atavistic lifestyles could be argued already hold more potential for fulfillment?
Do the buddhist of Lhasa have any need for Netflix? For Xbox live or Playstation plus? Or Facebook and Twitter? Arguably, no, they’re doing quite fine without it.
But perhaps some in their culture want to be able to access information on how to build a house or a radio, or figure out what homeopathic cures they should consider for the symptoms they’re currently experiencing; or maybe they deserve a chance to learn about a philosophy on life they’ve been considering in case they don’t want to follow in their culture’s footsteps. Everyone deserves this chance to individualize. Not just those in the first world countries that have the biggest militaries and bank accounts.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. –Edmund Burke
And it is crucial all voices are allowed in this brainstorming conversation that will guide our planet’s destiny, else people will have decisions made for them–just like in the case of the Native American populations where the “primitive” population was “out-evolved” and conquered.
As we become gods of immortality, it is those who embrace the change who will have their ideas persist. And so we must give these cultures all over the world who have so much to teach and such unique perspectives to share a chance to persist—to become gods with us—so they can help us mold a better tomorrow that includes their culture.
And as we embrace this greater connectivity, we will also (hopefully) increase empathy through a greater understanding of each other’s perspectives. Furthermore, the more perspectives we bring to the table, the exponentially higher chance for our ideas to merge into something beautiful and creative and never thought of before. That has always been the power of open source communities. The quicker we connect all the voices in the world, the quicker people will join up and aid each other’s work, and the sooner ideas that have never had a chance to mingle before will be merged and thus spawn infinite new possibilities of imagination and creativity. And amidst these cooperative efforts, we will find ourselves more rapidly bringing upon the humanistic innovations that ensure every person is taken care of:
Like the Lifestraw that purifies water:
The Lifestraw is a tube like structure with a filtration system inside. It hangs around your neck and you can drink any water without fear.
Or the book from Water Is Life, whose pages purify water:
We’re already there; we just need to get our of our own way.
With breakthroughs like solar panel roadways, inflatable climate-controlled houses, robotic-farming, 3D printers, and a plethora of other revolutionary technologies, we already have the potential to start implementing an infrastructure that frees every human being from the fear of poverty and death and sickness, that allows us to step away from the skewed, abusive, and selfish system of capitalism that no longer cultivates healthy mutual growth, but rather suppresses cooperation in favor of slavery to debt and bills that only benefit the upper-class who need it least.
So then it is up to us to draw attention to and fund (crowdsource) initiatives that are exploring: how to create free-energy from renewable resources like wind, water and the sun; how to find ways to build efficient cities and homes quickly and cheaply that work in harmony with the Earth rather than against it; how to give free healthcare to all; and how to cultivate infrastructure that will give everyone in the world the god-like power that technology and information can provide. It is up to us to be active and mindful with our choices, so that we can ensure we put our money and our votes and our conversations in line with these progressive and liberating technologies.
Photo: The Venus Project
We’re out of excuses.
The thing we need to realize is that we are growing as a species at an unbelievable rate and are destroying our planet like a virus, eating away at resources and creating a climate that is uninhabitable. From drying lakes to thousand of silos housing radiated water in Fukishima with no where to go, our Earth and our species may very well be on the verge of a murder-suicide, killing Earth and thus ourselves in the process.
We need to take action. The zeitgeist is molded by those who contribute and create; passivity will only allow those with dangerous ideas to execute them unchallenged.
And so we must act.
We must put funding and intention toward those who want to innovate liberating technologies. We must create a zeitgeist of creators whose end-product propagates freedom and love and empathy.
It is up to us now to look at our technologies and the broken state of our world and ask: how do we as technological gods heal this planet; how do we heal our connection with one another as we destroy the national boundaries and currencies and languages that divide us; how do use the gifts we have created for ourselves to reduce the harm to our Earth-spaceship, to ensure that all of humanity—from the 3rd world child to the 1st world elder—has the ability to access the world’s shared knowledge? How do we provide the kind access that will allow each person to learn any skill they want? How do we ensure that each person can live in a self-sustaining building that provides them with free energy? How do we create a society where we can all wake up every morning fearless and inspired—the way we should be waking up if we weren’t slaves to an outdated system that has skewed the distribution of resources to the point of societal collapse. We must find these answers so that we can wake up as children gods with all the possibilities of happiness and joy and sharing at our every whim, free of fear, and free to ask the beautiful question of: how will I make this moment be everything I want it to be?
You can also watch our video and other entries (as well as the winner’s video) on National Geographic!