What 2020, Covid 19, and Yuval Noah Harari Taught Us About The Purpose of Society

2020 has just come to a close. A tumultuous year for many and for the world as a whole.

When things got shaky, we all worked together — we stayed home, we kept to social circles and for the most part, we did our part to stem the disease.

In many cases — inevitably too few — governments stepped in to support people. When people stayed home from work to support society, some governments gave some of their people money to cover the bare necessities — food and shelter.

In the places where this did happen, what beautiful symbiosis. People doing what they can in the service of everyone — and the collective supporting them, helping make sure their needs are met.

But if we really want to minimize the chance of disease spread, there are more than just food and shelter to consider. Many found the abrupt, unfamiliar, uncertain disruption to society stressful. Stress makes us more susceptible to disease, making us a greater risk both ourselves, personally and for society. And so it serves everyone for us all to be stress-free. That however, requires us to think beyond food and shelter.

One can be stressed because of a lack of connection or a lack of meaning from being disconnected from work. What does it mean to invest in making sure those needs are met in service of public health and safety?

Yuval Noah Harari talks about artificial intelligence and automation creating a “useless class” — a class of people who can no longer contribute to society more affordably than a machine or an algorithm. To steel-man [reinforce] his argument — not only will they unable to contribute to society, they are actually a drain on society because, like everyone else, they need infrastructure like grocery stores, ambulances, sewers, roads, and so on.

If that is the case, however, then by simply working on meeting their own needs, they are actually doing the greatest service they can for society.

What then, about a society in which each individual is not left to compete to meet their needs as they are with our inherited one, but one in which they are encouraged, supported and perhaps even incentivized and rewarded for meeting their own needs? A society in which society helps them become as healthy, happy, and fulfilled as possible. Healthy, happy people have stronger immune systems and would decrease any likelihood of disease spread, not to mention all the f***ing good it would do.

Thinking grander, we could apply the same idea towards them not only meeting their own needs, but indeed helping others meet their needs.

How we would do this is a deep discussion, but what a vision — a society that was about enriching, educating, and encouraging people in service of their maximal health, happiness and fulfillment. Of course, this would need to integrate with a plan equally nourishing of the environment, but that would be a purpose-based society. Why is this significant?

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” — Buckminster Fuller

Everything starts with a vision. Could we crowdsource a society like this that served everyone and The Earth and made our current society obsolete?

It’s worth a shot.

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