I am often heard saying that humans must really earn the “sapiens” label, as a criticism to all the atrocities and ethically deplorable choices we sometimes make both individually and in groups.
We need to be critical in order to improve, as long as criticism is both given and taken as a constructive way to get to a better place. I must admit, it took me some time to understand criticism as feedback rather than an attack. It is also true that taking an overly critical view of the status quo may not necessarily be perceived by others as an attempt to construct, but to destruct. I don’t know about you, but I personally dislike the concept of “destruction”. What I like the most is thoughtful constructive action, with a good dose of thoughtful constructive criticism (given and taken), so we can keep adding substantive blocks of progress to the way we live and enjoy the gift of life.
There is an organization out there, Humanity+ (http://www.humanityplus.org) that has taken this approach of “thoughtful constructive action” and “thoughtful constructive criticism” with regard to its mission, elevating the human condition. Really? Wait, what? There is a group of people out there who are volunteering their time and offering their experiences in a myriad of disciplines and professions to help elevate the human condition? I wanted to know more about it.
Transhumanism, the philosophy that Humanity+ embraces and promotes, is another way to say “elevating the human condition”. Humanity+ has the credibility and the ability to discuss how humans can ethically influence our own evolution so we can become and be “better humans”. I don’t think there’s a limit to how “better” you or I can be, is it? The incredible biological advantage that intelligent species like “sapiens sapiens” have is that we can consciously impact our own destiny, and we are at a point in our evolution were we can envision alternative futures , and work towards the most favorable ones by putting our resources and developing the technologies necessary to get there safely.
Everybody recognizes how quickly things go now. My parents passed many years ago, but I remember my dad having issues with the concept of an ATM, when he needed “the human touch”. What I love about Humanity+ is that they envision a future where humans can be “better humans” (and that includes making this planet more livable, in conjunction with ecosystems and their living species), where technology continues to evolve in ethical ways, and where each one of us will have choices that were not available to us before.
I was cleaning our basement with my wife the other day, and we had the choice to get rid of CDs because most music it’s all available cloud-based. We also realized, however, all the electronic junk we had accumulated that was not useful anymore and would probably go to waste. One of my favorite alternative futures is “zero waste in any habitable planet” (including Earth, of course, that’s where everything starts!). More importantly, I want to think about a preferred future where we defeated all known illnesses (including death which I believe is an illness), and where every person has a chance to reach her maximum potential.
Idealistic? Of course. Questionable? We must engage in thoughtful constructive criticism, so everything should be open for questions. Feasible? I believe so, only if we,“sapiens sapiens”, want to! Scary? Only if we don’t have organizations like Humanity+ that creates the space to thoughtfully co-create regardless of nationality, gender, nationality, race or even language (since there are local chapters worldwide).
My doctoral research on wisdom revealed that “those considered wise” by others operated from an augmented personal and professional platform, where their internal “wisdom system” has been nurtured, is fully charged and engages dynamically with the environment to provide themselves and those around them a unique synthesized perspective of the world that we are able recognize when we ask them for advice. I posit that each one of us has our own “wisdom system” that leads us to our higher purpose of flourishing for self and others. In other words, I always say that “we are born to be wise”. In those alternative futures, I definitely see an “elevated version” of humanity, individually and collectively, finally driven by that urge to flourish and improve our human condition.
There are many challenges ahead of us, but I always err on the side of optimism and progress. We are born to be wise and Humanity+ has that spirit, the belief that humans are bound to become and be “better humans”. Whether you live by this or that political ideology, this or that religious faith, this or that nationality, you and I are “sapiens sapiens”, and we can work to ensure that we and those around us, and our future generations continue to elevate the human condition. The future is literally something we make, and I like to be part of an organization like Humanity+ where the end game is to become and be “better humans”.
Dr. Juan “Kiko” Suarez (Indianapolis, IN USA) is a global citizen. Currently a permanent resident in the US, he was born in Spain and has a unique blend of international experience in marketing and communications, corporate responsibility and information technology in Fortune 500 corporations, entrepreneurial startups, and strategic philanthropy.
Due to his passion for education and creating shared value, Juan, who likes to be addressed as Kiko, is now Vice President of Communications and Innovation for Lumina Foundation, which seeks to raise the percentage of Americans with quality post-secondary credentials to 60%. Suarez has a doctoral degree in Leadership and Change. His dissertation was on the role of wisdom in organizations and innovation processes.