Is the Future of Humans Doomed?
4 essential human traits needed for our survival.
Posted Apr 22, 2019
I was consumed with the future of our survival ever since I was a young child. A grandmotherly woman once knocked at our door when no one was home and sold me a bible study book. She told me that I shouldn't waste any time trying to plan for college because God was going to let our world end. I hadn't even made it to middle school yet, so the thought sent shivers down my spine and deep into my heart. I cried and prayed to God that night to please let the world survive. I promised I would do anything to help make it happen.
At school I learned the planet was getting stuffed with garbage and we were using up all of our planet's resources. I wondered how that could happen when I was severely reprimanded for hiding things under my bed and trying to spend the money from my piggy bank. Didn't the rest of the world learn what my parents taught me?
Fear of nuclear war added to my distress. Terrorists and religious wars made it worse. If I had to get along with my annoying little brother and sister, surely the rest of the planet's population could try to find peace with each other.
Then I got older and learned divorce was the norm, social security was gone, and jobs were hard to find...oh, and the planet will somehow become uninhabitable by flooding, freezing, overheating, or some combination of all of it. Human fate may very well be like that of the dinosaurs.
When the world survived long enough for me to make it to college, I studied everything I could to help contribute to our existence—environmental science and health, water remediation, international affairs, communications, religious studies, psychology, child development, family therapy, nutrition, metaphysics, and business & organizational psychology. What have I learned? Mostly that Socrates was right—the more you know, the more you know that you don't know anything.
Inspired by Occam’s Razor (the simplest of explanations is usually the correct one), I combed the research and honed it down to the four fundamental aspects of human nature that appear most necessary to the hope for our future. You can call these aspects evolutionary traits or the essentials of our humanity. You might also categorize them as coming from the Soul, or Higher Self. However you label them, these traits are consistent in human and spiritual development and reveal what keeps us growing—and what we need to foster in raising better children and cultivating planetary healthy and peace.
1. Storytelling and meaning—Humans learn from stories and their ability to comprehend meaning. The hope for the future lies in the stories we continue to tell and the meaning we ascribe to them. May our stories instruct us on what’s valuable while inspiring us to reach beyond what we think we are capable of doing. May we inspire generations of heroes armed with honesty, self-respect, compassion, courage, and the other evolutionary essentials listed here.
2. Empathy and emotional intelligence—Emotions are not bad or dangerous, when properly understood and not dysfunctionally repressed and projected. So many frightening emotions (anger, defensiveness, criticism) are often side-effects of not being able to deal with hurt, vulnerability, fear, and sadness. Empathy and emotional intelligence are the salves to argument, power struggles and cold indifference. They allow a person to be accepting of oneself and the feelings of another person—a necessary condition for genuinely understanding other people, having compassion, tolerance, forgiveness, healing, and peaceful relations.
3. Complex systems of equity and fairness—While animal studies reveal that animals from chimpanzees to rats exhibit disturbances to unfair rewards and treatment, humans have the capacity to understand complex systems and create equity and fairness that meet the complexity of the cultures and systems they reside in. Constantly striving to allow governing rules and compacts to evolve in fairness alongside the evolution of complex cultures is key to peace in future generations. Otherwise, humans risk devolving into a scene from Lord of the Flies.
4. Love—As Corinthians so beautifully articulates, “And the greatest of these is Love.” To love is Divine and sublime. Loving thoughts and loving action brings peace, healing and fills the core need of every heart. May we continue to grow in our ability and capacity to love—each other and the world and universe that provides us our home.