I believe we are created in God’s image, an image of life – from microscopic to cosmic – cooperating to become something greater. Understanding this is vitally important — a prerequisite for humanity to survive the very narrow place that we have created for ourselves. It is a belief that coalesced on a mountain ridge in North Carolina and has taken me on a journey from selling paper to selling peace.
Look, you don’t have to believe in God to understand what I’m talking about. Almost all of us have experienced the power of being part of something larger than ourselves; a team, a campaign, a movement – an exhilarating moment when you are swept up in a force greater than the sum of its parts.
In fact each of us is greater than the sum of our parts. Think about it. We are made up of trillions of cells. But our essence, our identity, is more than the total of each cell. We are the process of all of our cells working together.
We are the product of an evolutionary course that has, over eons, progressed from proteins, to single cell organisms, colonies, simple creatures, and now to self aware beings – humans.
We are part of a pattern of development that at each stage rewards greater cooperation between cells and between greater numbers of cells.
This blueprint is stamped on humanity as well. We first organized around our families and clans. We grew into tribes, developed cities and kingdoms, empires, and federations. At each stage greater cooperation between larger numbers of people has been rewarded.
Of course there have been the set backs: the wars, floods, famines, and plagues that have decimated societies. Humankind’s growth process is not linear. But the direction, the pattern of evolving greater cooperation and complexity is consistent.
And now we are at a tipping point. Humanity has gone from reaching 1 billion souls for the first time in the 1850’s, to 2 billion in the 1940’s, to over 6.6 billion today. Our technology has given us the capacity to impact our climate, and ignite a nuclear holocaust, but also extend our life spans and instantaneously communicate around the globe.
My work involves attempting to get nations to work together to solve global problems that they cannot resolve on their own. From terrorism to AIDs, to nuclear proliferation humanity faces challenges that transcend national borders. Cooperation, not domination, is the key to our success and survival.
It’s easy to believe that fear, greed, hate or fundamentalism will tear us apart. But if you step back a moment and look at the progress we have made over the last 60 years you can see the pattern at work.
At the end of World War II we had little concept of human rights. The word genocide had not even been invented. Since then, we have literally created thousands of international treaties, laws, and institutions. And our communications networks are improving exponentially. Debates on complex global challenges such as AIDs and climate change are now focused on how, not if, we will respond to them.
The human race has many pitfalls yet to overcome, but I believe that we will survive. We will make it, because we are created in God’s image, an image of life cooperating with life and consistently becoming more than the sum of its parts.
So here’s to life.
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