“ Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. ”
Of the three, it is the last one that overwhelmingly occupies my thoughts as of late. The times we are living are unprecedented, as my generation and the next will have to decide if organized human activity is going to continue on this planet. In 2020, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to midnight, the closest to midnight it has ever been. The report cites nuclear war and climate change as humanity's two major existential dangers, which have been aggravated in recent years by "cyber-enabled information warfare", that undercuts society’s ability to respond to these threats. The profit motive has brought the environment on the brink of total collapse, and the foolishness of a few political leaders has greatly enhanced the risk of civilization-ending nuclear war. To make matters worse, a new type of sophisticated, technology-propelled propaganda, enabled and sold by big social media corporations, has now emerged as a powerful weapon in the hands of government elites.
To avoid terminal disaster, we need to take matters into our own hands. We have the power to unmask social media disinformation, and rely on science and evidence-based decision making. We have the power to demand - through public protest, at the ballot box, and other creative ways - that our political leaders take immediate steps to reduce the combined existential threats of nuclear war and climate change. While essential to avoid the collapse of civilization in the short run, this is nevertheless not enough. We have to face and address the root problem that led to the present situation and that underlies all of these crises: hierarchical authority. As long as all of our major institutions are in the form of hierarchies, i.e. organizations that concentrate power at the top of a pyramidal structure - such as corporations, government bureaucracies, armies, political parties, religious organizations, universities, etc. - problems like these will never be truly solved, but only postponed. Humanity has grown past the need for leaders, in all aspects of life. A different society, one based upon individual freedom and voluntary co-operation, is not only possible, but necessary.