I find the world fascinating. Humans are amazing. We just launched the James Webb Telescope to see world’s formed billions of years ago and the Elizabeth Line. Both are engineering projects of immense challenge, and immense cost, as covered by many documentaries.
Then I read that Chinese social media celebrates the assassination of Shinzo Abe, the former Japanese Prime Minister, and find a whole world of friction that I never knew existed. As one that was not raised with Asian politics, I fell down the rabbit hole of reading about the Sino-Japanese Wars. It’s not a pretty place to be.
As an avid consumer of media, I am very aware of two key human characteristics. The first is power; the second is progress [the third is gossip].
Power is all about gaining ground over opposition. This is brilliantly demonstrated in the movie Apocalypto. It may be factually inaccurate, but the essence is one tribe’s need to exert power over their neighbours. That message has stayed with me a long time. I need to be more powerful than you. Is that a bsic human instinct?
The second basic human instinct is to explore and be curious. What’s out there? Are we the only ones here? We want to find other life. We can do that on Earth, by being one with the animal kingdom; or we can do that in Space, by finding other life. In fact, I believe our drive to find other life is that we don’t want to be alone. We want to find that there are other civilisations; other places to live; a back-up to Earth.
A back-up to Earth.
What would a back-up to Earth look like? If you were rebuilding Earth, how would you build it?
That sounds like you could be a god. You have seven days to design a planet. How would you design it? Would you put humans in your planet? How would you program them? Would their DNA be ingrained with curiosity and power, or with love and peace? What would their values be: profit and ownership or sharing and caring?
These are all existential and philosophical questions but hey, it’s summertime, shall we go there? I don’t want to go there, because I believe humanity is split into these dimensions of war and power and peace and love. We have a little bit of all of this in us. It’s not uniform.
Watching another series about how the oil industry has spent half a century covering their destruction of the planet made me realise this. The oil industry, Exxon in particular, funded huge amounts of climate research in the last century. Those engaged in such research explored solar and wind power as alternatives, believing they were doing the right thing. As it turns out, those who funded such research were purely spending the money to quell any such insight. They also funded huge amounts of climate denial. Their focus was purely profit and power; not planet and purpose.
These themes run through everything, everyday. Profit and power; planet and purpose. Are you happy living in a bubble of excess, where the world looks lovely through your penthouse window? Or are you driven by ensuring that your children will have a world to live in that is better than the world you grew up in?
I never knew these were fundamental question, because I never asked them till I had kids. My purpose was purely to have a house and pay down the mortgage. Now, it’s to make the world a better place. What’s yours?
Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...