The RSA Organisation is a true inspiration to myself, with many lectures and articles from some of the best intellectual minds on the planet. Jeremy Rifkin is one such mind, and is a bestselling author, political adviser and social and ethical prophet. In this lecture he explores the evolution and development of empathy and the ways in which this has profoundly shaped our development as a species and our social interaction within communities. Mr Rifkin calls for a more empathetic world, one where we can extend our empathy outside of our blood line, religion, and nation to include the entire population of the world, the animals within it, and the environment itself. He claims that the 6.8 Billion people of today (now actually over 7 Billion) are decendents from 2 individuals, ie we are all family. In the words of Rodney King;
“Why can’t we all just get along?”
As we have evolved our consciousness over time, from the early hunter gatherers, to the coffee drinking shoppers of today, we have expanded our levels of empathy to include people further and further afield. Taking Haiti as an example of the state of Global Empathy reached following the devastating earthquake there, Jeremy Rifkin suggest that we can evolve further using technology to communicate and spread the word. He believes we can evolve into a more empathetic species, called Homo-empathicus where we are concerned and feel for all people of this world and the world itself. Without this development, he states, we are doomed to self-destruction. Mr Rifkin calls for the beginning of a global debate to bring about empathic socialability and to begin to rethink the institutions (educational, political, commercial, societal) to promte a more empathetic world. And i suppose in short, this is what the RSA Organisation stands for.
I believe that unless the individuals within the business world begin to function with a higher level of morality and empathy towards others and with a better social vision that we will see a period of Global Destabilisation that will rock our species to the core, and will cost the Global Economy untold Trillions and set us back into the dark ages. Many people believe that Milton Friedman, the prophet of Free-Trade, to be an evil man but i feel this is a vast oversimplification. I am aware that he was involved in some dubious dealings and that his theories have caused hardship for many around the world, but i aim to look at his economical ideology rather than the results of such ideologies. But he once wrote;
‘our minds tells us, and history confirms, that the great threat to freedom is the concentration of power’.
Although in this he was talking about the centralised government, and the need to ensure a more de-centralised base for political and governmental power i believe this can be applied to a concentration of wealth, as it is easy to see that economic power can lead to political leaning and thus enable monopolies of power and self-interest. We, as business people, need to ensure that we are able to view anothers situation and seek empathy for that person so that we can share the resources of this world and promote freedom around the globe.
As ever, a truly enlightening and thought-provoking lecture from the RSA Organisation.
Please let me have any comments you have, so that we can aim to develop conversations and debate over this topic.