Optimists gonna optimise
Why we’re lucky to be alive today. And why it’s time to suit up and take action.
Friend: ‘So, what’s another way you’d describe the vision for Oi Polloi?’
Me: ‘Like Star Trek, without the spaceships — or uniforms.’
Although I’d love to tap one of those button thingies on my chest and speak to my mates. But in all seriousness, Oi Polloi, the movement designed to turn Greece into a beacon of civilisation once more, is just like Star Trek. It’s a multi-cultural team of individuals, working together to be a force for good around the world. Alien hand gestures are optional.
Sound nuts? Let’s start with the big guns. Because beating round the bush is so yesterday:
I’m a guy who grew up watching Star Trek — and I’d be lying if I said that show didn’t have at least some small influence on my worldview. What I loved about it was its optimism, the fundamental belief at its core that the people on this planet, for all our varied backgrounds and outward differences, could come together to build a better tomorrow.
I still believe that. I believe we can work together to do big things that raise the fortunes of people here at home and all over the world.
I’m not a guy. But Obama is. And that’s from a recent article he wrote titled, ‘Now is the greatest time to be alive’ as part of guest editing the Frontiers issue of Wired magazine. And by the way, I concur with the Commander.
Or try this one on for size too.
It was difficult not to be excited when one minute a biotech founder pulls a ‘Steve Jobs’ and produces a DNA sequencer out of his pocket; and the next a physicist is taking the audience through how to power space vehicles with antimatter. From drones that can smell, to coating satellites with glue to collect space debris, ‘crazy’ ideas were the foundation of every talk, pitch and meeting at Hello Tomorrow. It’s not every day a flying car wins a startup battle, after all.
That’s Gemma Milne, Co-founder of Science:Disrupt, former Tech Innovation Strategist and self-professed ‘creative science-nerd’, in an article titled, ‘Crazy is the new norm at Hello Tomorrow’. Hello Tomorrow was a 2-day summit that just took place in Paris, and brought together technology leaders and entrepreneurs at the forefront of innovation. The gist of it? The future can be better, and we have the tools to build it. Gemma called it, ‘A summit of optimists,’ and ended her fab article with this quote from Margaret Mead:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.
How does this solve anything?
Flying cars? DNA sequencing? Drones that sniff glue? (Not actually what the innovation was, but folks misread stuff all the time, innit.) I can hear the cynics and sceptics from over here in my captain’s chair.
Never fear. What’s important is this: there are so many amazing technologies, initiatives and people out there, rolling up their sleeves, using their talents and imagination to find solutions to problems that fascinate them and galvanise them into action. What if *someone* brought these together, and focused their efforts into a grand narrative?
That’s where hope-mongers like me, like Gemma, like Obama come in. People who choose to see the half-full part of the glass, who want to reclaim the narrative of humanity away from those that peddle division, fear, and hatred. Because it’s lazy, it’s boring and uncomfortable.
There’s always going to be someone who pipes up and goes, ‘yeah, that’s nice and all, but what about X, Y, Z?’ The designated cold-water-pourer. As someone who spent the morning agonising over the bit of extra fat that’s appeared since my pre-menstrual weekend food-binge, I understand the tendency to question things that can seem remote.
It’s not a question of being remote. It’s a question of priorities.
What matters most to you? Being in the right? About immigrants using the NHS, refugees being a strain on the system, or whatever it is that negative people complain about?
Or is making things better top of your list? Because if it is, join us. Oi Polloi is harnessing optimism into a force for good. It means the ingenuity, openness, imagination and collaboration needed to bring about innovative solutions to problems. I won’t give away too much just yet. But the wheels are turning. And make no mistake about it, together, we’re going to change the world. So, roll up your sleeves, and help us make a dent.