Updated: Oct 9
With less than a decade to minimize the most catastrophic effects of the climate change and the 6th mass extinction that humans have set in motion; we continue to invest little in collaborating and innovating to improve our situation. Instead, global competition, social unrest and conflict dominate our focus as a species. Now the good news...
We are also the solution.
To understand why we're at the brink of total systems collapse (again), we must first understand how we got here. Within this wisdom lies a practical path through (and out) of this pattern, altogether. All this to say: There is reason to remain hopeful about our future.
How did we mess things up so fast?
Random neocortical mutations ~100K years ago vastly expanded our cognitive powers. Overnight, we began to collaborate and innovate based on creative imagination.*
1. Collaboration: While all the other homo species negotiated social structures based on mutual grooming and extended family units, homo sapiens began to collaborate based on shared beliefs, like a reverence for the eagle spirit. This allowed us to organize by the thousands, using our superior social organization skills to wipe out our nearest relatives in short order. *
2. Innovation: These same mutations allowed us to innovate creatively. Not only did we identify with the eagle spirit, we also started asking what it might take to fly like the eagle. In 1903 a bike mechanic and his bird enthusiast brother took flight. * Individual Imbalance
Unfortunately, the fear of the other and the scarcity instincts of our mammalian and reptilian brains did not evolve to match our increased primate capacities to collaborate and innovate.*
As a result, while our efforts to collaborate and innovate have led to global social structures and unprecedented control over the planet's resources; the unconscious bias toward the other in our limbic system and the fear of environmental threat baked into our endocrine system has made these organizations and technologies deeply hierarchical, exploitative and destructive.*
In fact, enough stress will take our entire neocortex offline, which results in structural dissociation. When it comes back online, we codify our unconscious fear and bias into discriminatory cultural, political, religious and economic structures that allows oppression, exploitation and maltreatment to go viral. All we had to do is freak people out and then tell them who's an "us" and who's a "them." This is when we really started to mess things up at scale. This is also why large swaths of people are freaked out about truly inconsequential issues, but remain unswayed by what's really putting us in danger, like climate change. *