Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
As I wrote these case studies the same thought kept occurring to me: These are some of the best puzzles ever! Applying human objectivity to the biggest, most intriguing and most definitively human problem, ever, is quite an endeavor. And we’re in that endeavor. We’re part of that enterprise.
I notice a lot of people my age – in their 40s and 50s – saying they don’t know if they would want to be young today. They feel overwhelmed by our challenges. For some the challenge of global cultural conflict seems insurmountable. For others it’s the prospect of economic stagnation that overwhelms them. Then, of course, there are planetary environmental problems.
If I just sit around and think about problems like these, I sometimes feel a little intimidated myself. But if I get off the couch and do something – write something, grow something, fix something that needs fixing – I feel a whole lot better. In fact, when I’m busy I often feel energized by the importance of the projects our species is tackling today. Old-fashioned biological expansion was automatic. Our previous technological triumphs were exciting, but they were, ultimately, the products of our primitive desires for more power, more speed, more food and richer entertainment.
Now we’re inventing something new – a path toward prosperity of a particularly human kind. To expand and grow stronger is the animal impulse. To calculate our natures and build a world to suit those natures – a world designed for the long term – is an achievement to which only a human being can aspire.
We’re working on the best human project of all time.
What a great privilege.