Monday, May 4, 2015

An empathic civilization

[note by author: I have been abstinent from posting to this blog in the last months. This is because I started to work on a book project and all my writing energy goes towards this goal. I will, however, periodically post some of my writings to Sustain3 and would be grateful for any feedback on my ideas.]

Much of the existential crisis humanity is facing in the coming century requires a radical shift in our behavior. We need to act differently in order to sustain life for coming generations, let alone live in prosperity while increasing our planet's population. Bringing about this type of behavioral change will be next to impossible without a change in our intrinsic motivation. By laying down regulations and curtailing freedoms, we will at best minimize the negative consequences of our consumer lives. In order to bring about a robust and reliable change, we need to also change the narrative we have of ourselves. Maybe we are not intrinsically selfish and competitive? Maybe we are much more geared towards collaboration and altruism, as Yoshai Benkler proposes in his recent book 'the penguin and the leviathan'?

Noted economist and author Jeremy Rifkin suggests that we are on an evolutionary path towards collaboration by the emergence of an empathic society. Can homo empathicus develop a shared consciousness with all sentient being and the biosphere as a whole? Can we extend the scope of our empathy beyond the fiction of our tribal blood ties, religious affiliations or nation states, but instead consider the whole humans race and biosphere as our concern? Modern technology is rapidly changing who we interact with and how we empathize. Many new paths to altruistic acts are now being offered by online emergency aid, donations or micro loans. People, in fact, like to help other people. We should recognize and encourage this as we see it manifesting all around us, it might be just what saves us in the end.

'The Empathic Civilization' - by Jeremy Rifkin

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