🛠️ There’s a single word that describes the feeling of living in the 2020s so far: precarious.
You can feel it in the economy, in our politics, even in relations with friends, relatives and neighbors who we used to know and understand a little more fully: Has social media ruined our mental health? Is AI the answer to all of our problems or the source of our inevitable annihilation? Are we the proverbial frogs being slowly boiled in a pot of water that we’re heating ourselves? Can we trust our governments? How about the media? Or corporations? Today even once trusted professionals like our doctors and our kids’ teachers can’t escape an unprecedented dose of suspicion.
It seems we are standing on a broad mesa top with no way down. No matter which way we go, we eventually run into a cliff. We find ourselves at a precipice in all directions and the edge is crumbling.
But we are not condemned to fall off into the void. In fact, in the past societies have chosen to take up a similar, seemingly precarious position. Nearly a millennia ago, the Puebloan people in the area west of what is now Albuquerque, New Mexico built a village on top of just such a broad mesa top in the high desert.
The position offered an excellent defensive position against raiders and access could be controlled via hand-cut stairs carved into soft sandstone. The village became known as Sky City, home to what we today refer to as the people of Acoma Pueblo. The mesa top village is still occupied and among the longest continuously inhabited settlements in North America.
Today human history repeats on a global scale. Many people in society feel pushed to the edge of that cliff. But like the Acoma people, we can embrace it and turn it to our advantage, not only to survive, but to thrive. We have the tools to carve our own staircases into the structures that only appear to limit us and build bridges across the void encircling us.
But first we must stabilize the cliff to keep it from crumbling further. Some needed adjustments must be made to preserve what we still have and reverse the disintegration of our social fabric.
Any of us could easily compose a long list of changes we’d like to see in the world. I actually started keeping a list as far back as 2015. Some of the changes are relatively small tweaks, while others are big shifts in how we approach our lives and interactions with society. I soon noticed that if we could successfully make the big shifts as a collective, many of the smaller tweaks on my list would be taken care of on their own. So I continued pruning my list of some needed adjustments down to just these four big shifts that stand to help stall and reverse the current disintegration we see all around:
Long-term thinking over short-term satisfaction
Curiosity over certainty
Service over status
Principles over tribes
In the near future I’ll be expanding on each of the first four needed adjustments, as well as the system of values that informs them.