And All The World Will Be One

And All The World Will Be One

It’s a fascinating idea–can the entire world be governed as one?

I remember as a kid watching all the space shows where Earth and its entire people were always shown as one united planet.

Not only was the Earth viewed as a single governed entity and the people as united against outside forces, but multiple planets were united together in alliances–Star Trek (with The United Federation Of Planets), Star Wars (with the Republic, The Empire, and The Galactic Council), and Battlestar Galactica (with the Twelve Colonies).

In all these shows, there was planetary unity as well as an interplanetary union.

Yet, the reality in this world, as we know it, there is plenty of divisiveness and distrust, often leading to conflict, skirmishes, and even all out war.

Over time, we have formed some unity in parts of the world–in ancient times, we had the various empires (Persian, Greek, Roman, Ottoman, British, etc.) that spanned large swathes of Europe, Africa, and Asia–but since these empires were the result of conquest, I do not think this is what we mean by true world unity.

In current times, we have unions that are geographically based and often founded on unity of ideas and beliefs–such as the United States and the European Union (with core beliefs in democracy, freedom, equality, and the rule of law), as well as the Russian Federation, and the African Union.

So the question is can we as a world move from individual countries, nations, and states to a true world order?

The Wall Street Journal (8 October 2012) had a book review on “Governing The World” by Mark Mazower that explored whether global government was possible or even desirable given that a world government could be used not to unite disparate peoples and solve large and complex global problems, but rather for the strong to rule over, colonize, and subjugate the weak.

So far efforts at establishing world-wide governing bodies such the League of Nations and United Nations, have been largely seen as being “mere sound and fury” and essentially ineffectual. Similarly, supportive world bodies, such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have been accused by movements such as Zeitgeist of being agents of economic manipulation rather than true benefactors to help needy people.

So far the track record of the world for governing universally people around the world has been less than stellar with events like The Holocaust, and other recent genocides in Rwanda, Srebrenica, and Darfur.

Yet, while the WSJ book review says, “early enthusiasm about the emancipatory promise of world government now seems hopefully naive,” I still believe it is possible when our similarities become more important than our differences.

In all the science-fiction shows that show the people of Earth united, it is always a result of some external threat–whether an outside enemy like the Klingons or Cylons, or other apocryphal events such as a global pandemic, killer asteroids, or even thermonuclear war.

We can come together–not in subjugation but in jubilation–only when we stop hating and discriminating based on differences–and instead band together to raise the standard of living, freedom, and human rights of all.

Everyday, three times a day, towards the end of the Jewish prayers in the Aleinu, we ask for the day when “G-d will rule over the whole Earth”–this is a great hope for not only G-d to be one in all the Earth, but for all people to be governed and united as one–justly and beneficially. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Words Matter A Lot

This is a great video on the power of words, but also on the caring of one for another.

We can make a difference with our words!

Words can help and can hurt, they can pursuade and they can punish, but the most important thing is that we are responsible for how we use them.

While we can say we’re sorry for hurtful words, they can never really be taken back (i.e. unspoken).

And just the opposite holds true as well–when we use words constructively, the impact for good reverberates.

I still hear the words of the most important people in my life guiding me, always.

Use your words with care, deference, ingenuity, and most important with kindness for others.

Think Different, Change The World

This video is a true tribute to Steve Jobs, where he narrates the first “Think Different” commercial (1997).
“Here’s to the crazy ones.
The misfits.
The rebels.
The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules.
Andy they have no respect for the status quo.
You can quote them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They push the human race forward.
And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
– Steve Jobs, Apple Inc.

I Want To Be Possible

I_want_to_be_possible

On Rosh Hashanah, The Jewish New Year, which is a time of personal reflection, the Rabbi told us a story (which I made into the attached cartoon) about the person, who when asked what he wanted to be–when he grew up–said “I want to be possible!” That’s the serious part.

 

And when asked “why possible? The person replies humorously because his mother always told him how impossible he is. 🙂

 

The short parable struck me as pretty profound and worth sharing.

 

Because everyday, each of us has to wake up and look ourselves in the mirror, and ask–are we happy with ourselves…who we are…what we have become?  And is it really what we want to be, when we, proverbially, grow up?

 

In the movie Reckless, when they ask the teen growing up in the working class town what he wants out of life–he replies short and to point, “More!”

 

What more do we want out of our lives?  More money, more honor, more things…at the end, that’s all sort of besides the point–isn’t it?

 

What is important is making more possibilities in life–for ourselves and for others by creating a better world.

 

In other words, it’s not about the material (although we all need to take basic care for ourselves and our loved ones–that’s just being responsible), but fundamentally, it’s about the opportunity to make the impossible, possible!

 

For each of us, the challenges are unique and all too often (G-d protect us!), life’s trials and tribulations test us to our very core–so overcoming impossibilities has a distinct meaning for all of us.

 

But as a strategist, a futurist, and an enterprise architect, I know deep down that the art of the possible is in looking forward and not backwards, and working tirelessly to sacrifice and serve.

 

I pray for the new year that G-d gives us the strength and the wisdom to overcome our personal and societal weaknesses, limitations, and selfish inclinations to help and “repair the world”–creating new opportunities for peace, health, and prosperity for all!

 

(Cartoon created in BitStrips)

 

The World Peaceularity

World_peaceularity

Futurist, Ray Kurzweil laid out his vision for a time when artificial intelligence surpasses the pure human kind–this he called The Singularlity.

Now people from around the world are building a presentation in Google Docs with alternatives visions of our future–it is both fascinating and humorous.
The image on World Peacularity was my contribution with a vision for a future as stated in Isaiah 2:4 “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
Hope you like it and that we can share the desire for and pursuit of World Peace together.

Appropriate Technology For All

For July 4th, we headed down to the D.C. Folk Life Festival today on the Washington Mall.

The Peace Corps had a number of exhibits at the festival, including one on what they call “Appropriate Technology.”

Appropriate technology is about being user-centric when applying technology to the local needs and realities on the ground around the world.

There are 3 key rules in developing and implementing appropriate technology:

1) Affordable–technology has to be affordable for the people that are going to use it. Even if it saves money in the long-term, it has to be something that can be acquired by people without access to traditional financing in the short-term. 
2) Local–the material must be available locally in order to make it accessible to people living in remote and even dangerous parts of the world. 
3) Transparent–the design of the technology must be transparent with the assembly instructions available to the local people, so that it can be maintained indigenously. 
One company that is helping needy people around the world using appropriate technology is Global Cycle Solutions.
Two products from this company that attach to your bicycle were on display and one was actually being demonstrated:
1) Corn Sheller–For $75 plus shipping this attachment to your bicycle shells corn from the husks in pretty amazing speed. According to the supplier, you “can fill a 90-kg sack of maize in 40 minutes and 10-15 sacks per day…[so the] machine pays for itself within a month.” (Pictured you can see the exhibitor from Peace Corps loading the corn into the device and the husk coming out the other end; a little girl is pedaling and powering the device in one, and a little boy is spinning the wheel in the other.)
2) Phone Charger–For $10 plus shipping this bicycle attachment charges your phone as you pedal from place to place or as you spin the wheel in place. According to the website, it “charges as quickly as using a wall outlet.” (Pictured is the bike and charger on display.)
Since bicycles are routinely found around the world, these add-on devices that help in food preparation and communications are practical and cost-effective. 
Appropriate technology is not a technical term and the concept is not rocket-science, yet if we just keep in mind the people we serve–what their needs are and what constraints they may be living under–we can make solutions that are functional, cost-effective and sensible, and we’ll can help a lot of needy people in the world, bells and whistles aside. 
Appropriate_tech_1 Appropriate_tech_2 Appropriate_tech_3 Appropriate_tech_4

2048–And The World Will Be As One

John Lennon sang the song Imagine—envisioning a time when everyone will be at peace “and the world will be as one.”

Perusing the bookstore, I came across a relatively new book that came out last year called 2048 by J. Kirk Boyd, Executive Director of the 2048 Project at the U.C. Berkeley Law School that carries a vision of peace, unity and human rights similar to the song.

By 2048, Boyd envisions a world with an “agreement to live together”—marked by an International Bill of Rights with five key freedoms:

1)   Freedom of Speech—includes freedoms of expression, media, assembly, and associations.

2)   Freedom of Religion—the right to worship in your own way and separation of church and state.

3)   Freedom from Want—everyone has a right to a useful and fairly paying job, a decent home, adequate medical care, and a good education.

4)   Freedom from Fear—freedom from repression, enabled by an independent judiciary and the enforcement of the rule of law.

5)   Freedom of the Environment—driven by preservation and sustainability for future generations.

I would see the freedoms in the U.S. Bill of Rights that are not explicitly mentioned here to be implicitly covered by the broad categories of Freedoms from Want and Fear.

For example, the right to bear arms and such could be covered under the Freedom of Want.  Similarly, the guarantees to a speedy, public trial and not to be put in double jeopardy or unreasonably searched etc. could be covered under Freedom from Fear. 

Boyd’s 2048 implementation of an International Bill of Rights carries forward the Declaration of Human Rights—that consists of 30 articles—by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948on it’s one hundred year anniversary—that has unfortunately not been fully realized yet. 

In a time when so much oppression, repression, and global poverty still exist, I am awed by this vision and call for human rights throughout the world.

I like the clarity and simplicity of Boyd’s five freedoms.  They can be easily understood and remembered.

The freedoms according to Boyd will enable us to focus together, think (and write) together, decide together, and move forward together. 

This is a far different world than the one we live in today that is driven by scarcity, power and politics and that keep people in seemingly perpetual fighting mode.

What will it take to reach a world architecture that brings peace, prosperity, and dignity to all?  A global catastrophe.  A common enemy.  A messianic fulfillment.  Or is it possible, with G-d’s help, to move today—incrementally—through our own planning, reason and devices to live in peace as one humankind?

>From Crisis To Stability

With so much chaos going on in the world (natural disasters, political turmoil, extremism/terrorists, multiple wars, economic slump, and more), our society is under enormous pressure.
The images of suffering from around the world recently seems to be rising exponentially with the near simultaneous Japanese earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accidents, the fighting all around the Middle-East, the not too distant Deepwater Horizon oil spill that went on for 3 months, and virtually all the world economies under duress.
Here is a quick chart of the crisis factors (on the left) seemingly tearing at our society as well as stabilizing factors (on the right) that are healing to it.
While at times, the challenges we face may seem insurmountable, we can remember that our capacity as human beings and as a society to adapt and grow is enormous.
Let’s hold on to our beliefs and work together as a stabilizing force for social order and good in the world (a place where crisis is no longer a stranger, indeed).

>Doomsday Clock Architecture

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There is something fascinating to me about the doomsday clock—where we attempt to predict our own self-destruction and hopefully prevent it!

The chart in this post from the Mirror in the U.K. shows the movement of the Doomsday Clock over the last 60 plus years.

Currently in 2010 (not shown in the chart), we stand at 6 minutes to midnight (midnight being a euphemism for the end of the world or Armageddon).

Since 1947, The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has hypothesized and visualized with the dials on the clock how close they believe mankind is to self-extinction.

The closest we’ve gotten is 2 minutes to midnight in 1953 after the U.S. and Russia test the first nuclear devices.


The furthest we’ve gotten from midnight is 17 minutes in 1991, when the Cold War was over, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) was signed, and the U.S. and Russia took their fingers off the hair-trigger alert on their nuclear arsenals pointed at each other.

While some may take the Doomsday Clock as a morbid or pessimistic reminder of our human frailties, missteps, and movement toward potential calamity, I see it as a tool that attempts to keep us—as humankind—from going over the edge.

This is very architecture-like, to me. We look at where we are and (implicitly here) set targets for ourselves to move the hands backward away from Armageddon. The architecture piece that we need to concentrate on is a crystal clear plan to get those hands on the clock way back to where we can feel more secure in our future and that of our children and grandchildren.

Wired Magazine (October 2010) has an article called “Suspend the Deathwatch,” calling for the measurement of “a wider variety of apocalyptic scenarios” and for the addition of a “Doom Queue, with a host of globe-killing catastrophes jockeying for slot number one.” The main idea being that we “do more than predict The End; it would organize our collective anxieties into a plan of action.”

I definitely like the idea of a plan of action—we need that. We need to plan for life, continuity, and a flourishing society that goes beyond the limits of sustainability of our situation today.

We are aware of the world’s growing population (aka the population explosion), the scarcity of vital resources like water, energy, arable land, etc. and the potential for conflict that arises from this. We need to plan for the “what ifs” even when they are uncomfortable. That is part of responsible leadership and a true world architecture. That is a big, but meaningful job indeed.