It took me a while after the election to come up with anything to say. The outcome didn’t surprise me, given the amount of anger, frustration and fear in the world right now.
The next four years will be rocky… Trump epitomizes so much of the worst in us. But the problems that need working on haven’t changed. Americans are facing big challenges, which have intensified over the course of both Democratic and Republican presidencies.
Trump is a wake-up call to get uncomfortable. You can’t change the world from the comfort of an air-conditioned room. We need to put our effort where our mouth is… most of us have just been along for the ride these past few decades.
The world needs sustained effort. It needs large numbers of people energized and inspired to change behavior wholesale, and to be more accountable to each other.
Here are the challenges I see:
- The detachment of people from the fundamentals of life, after generations of post-WWII comfort (what we take for granted would shock our great grandparents).
- The isolation of people from all but their immediate circles. Most people in the world can’t relate to, much less empathize with each other.
- The transformation of the financial system from a known quantity utility into to something opaque and inscrutable that feels more like a casino.
- The spread and acceptance of lying, and shirking of accountability (including but not limited to athletes, entertainers, politicians and businesspeople).
- The rise of ego and celebrity as the primary motivator for many people.
- Automation and the disenfranchisement of workers (a financial and psychological challenge).
- The increasing availability of cheap dangerous things, from drugs to guns to biological agents.
- The impact of machines and human consumption on the environment (i.e. global warming).
- The spread of software that allows a few people to manipulate many people more completely than ever.
You can blame human nature for all the above, but blame is just noise that drowns out constructive action. There was never a nirvana. Humans have always had greed, violence and suffering.
But now there are seven billion of us, as a stable and prosperous period of history seems to be giving way to a more volatile one. And the planet is rebelling.
Humans have never been good at long term thinking, but we must use our great brains now to actively work on these problems. Can’t keep kicking these cans down the road.
I’m still figuring out which of the above issues to try to work on.