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By: Diego Hidalgo Saa | @diego_suah
It seems that we’re at the beginning of the end of an era spoiled by abundance, embraced by comfort and hijacked by safety. We have gotten used to having it all come very easy and to experiencing global problems from afar; we assume that food will be on the shelves of our favourite supermarket, that water will flow through the pipes of our homes and that the garbage will be gone from the side of the road by next morning. We take for granted the system to which we belong and it’s hard for us to appreciate the fragility of the balance with which our society functions. Perhaps, that’s why living this reality feels like watching a dystopian sci-fi movie. How odd is to see our civilization cornered, succumbing to the fear and uncertainty of this threat. While we feel powerless; condemned to be more useful in confinement than in the front lines. But maybe, what’s even more bizarre is that within this odd alternative reality, which we are all living in, we are hyper-connected by the Internet. We laugh, innocently, while sharing the everyday experiences of this time in quarantine on social media; meanwhile, every day, our leaders make decisions that are taking our society back to normal with the same degree of certainty with which they are flirting with chaos. We are living through an unprecedented social experiment of which no one is spared. Some of us will get sick; many of us will lose our jobs, others will see their life savings dissolve in a declining market; and quite a few of us will have to watch, on a screen from afar, desperately how our parents get sick while we can’t be there taking care of them in these critical moments. The virus doesn’t forgive; we’re all going to suffer the consequences of this pandemic, one way or another. But, is this perhaps a necessary evil? Is this the global forest fire that humanity needs to let the old ideas burn out to give way for entirely new paradigms to emerge and flourish? To start answering these questions, we must first imagine a much better world than the one we have right now. To solve this problem, we have to work from the solution backwards. The good thing about human imagination is that it has no limits, and what’s good about this moment in history is that no idea could be too deranged. After all, we are knocking, naively, the doors of dystopia; so why not dream a little with a utopia? I dream of a planet without capitalism or socialism, left or right, liberals or conservatives. I want a pragmatic world where decisions are not based on ideologies, but on numbers and facts. I want a world where, just like we once separated church and state, we now separate private corporate interest from influencing our legislative bodies and the process of drafting public policy. I want to live in a place where technologies such as blockchain would end corruption once and for all. I want a world where a free press operates as a not-for-profit organization, serving no special interests, nor being a government puppet. Why don’t we create a multilateral organization to manage the resources of a free, independent and international press, one that operates with transparency and free of government influences, free from ideologies or agenda, and whose only mandate is the pursuit of the truth? We should also find a way of financing a sustainable model for a local press with the same values. I can imagine a utopia where all the externalities of human economic activity around the world, which negatively affect the environment and poor people, have to pay a fair price. I want a world where extractivist activities, which cannot be modernized to become sustainable, not only pay the cost of the resources they use but of the environmental impact, they generate. I dream of a world where we can educate everyone through the Internet using all the old technology we currently dispose of as trash, but which could be used for many years more in poorer communities. I want a world where the teaching profession is adequately compensated and highly valued. I dream of a place where, through education and connectivity, we cultivate the crops of human ingenuity and creativity for all our benefit. I can imagine a world where spirituality and science converge to bring about a more informed and more conscious society. A reality where religion doesn’t try to explain the inexplicable and science doesn’t try to see the invisible. I want a world where we legalize drugs, prostitution and gambling to cut the main sources of funding that sustain organized crime around the world. I want a place where these activities pay taxes and, through these means, sustain the economic and military aid needed by countries suffering from unscrupulous violence; while also funding medical and psychological aid for people suffering from addiction. What I envision in this utopia is a much less divided and more globalized world. After all, our interdependencies go far beyond our borders, our information doesn’t need to get a visa and the banana I ate this morning had no passport. How would a completely globalized world look like, if we could collaborate free of nationalism, bureaucracy and barriers? The history of human survival and success as the most dominant species on the planet is due, mainly, to one characteristic above all else: collaboration. Our ability to collaborate in big numbers gave us an advantage over all the other species on Earth and helped us create the civilization in which we live today. Just imagine what we could accomplish if humanity would collaborate freely at the scale made possible by technology today! To go from dreaming to acting, we first need to understand that all these challenges are mainly political. The hurdles to progress mainly come from the congested web of entangled special interests which make the world a very complicated and tense place. The coming crisis will not happen for lack of resources, but for lack of decisions. There will not be a shortage of work. There is so much to do! There is so much to change! If the world gets organized, we all win! It is not a matter of looking for victims or villains, it’s a matter of understanding that the system can work better with new ideas and that to change it, we need to start by thinking differently. This chaos will be the catalyst for change; it is time to question everything, imagine the unimaginable, and fight for what we thought was unreachable before. Only history will tell if in the end, the virus became humanity’s executioner, or if we succumbed to our own greed; or if on the contrary, we were the illuminated generation that collectively overcame this unimaginable obstacle with generosity, vision and creativity. It costs nothing to dream, but only dreaming is just not enough.