Can one product solve every problem in the world — including the cause of 2016 election?
65.3 million people are displaced. 20 million people are at risk of starvation from an unprecedented famine. 20.9 million people are human-trafficked, abused daily. The list continues — climate change refugees, Agent Orange descendants, over one million kids to die from malaria this year unless given malaria nets, and on and on.
Nearer, woes still dominate. Our family member with a preventable disease. Our spouse’s unresolvable difficulties at work. Our friend with low self-esteem. Our kid with depression. Our community’s kids with low grades and lack of prospects for college. Our community members disabled and feeling unvalued. Our community’s lonely elderly. And on and on.
We ourselves have problems as well, like unfulfilled ambition, bad health, worries over finances, and burnout.
Solutions to all these problems exist. It exists in each one of us. Our capabilities, our time, our resources can be used to solve each other’s problems and the world’s. $2.50 can buy a malaria net. A genuine smile can heal that emotional pain. A time to tutor and mentor can change that kid’s life. Opening our border to refugees can save that family from being bombed.
Why do we not then? The world we exist in and built often hinders us.
One way it does so is by exerting constraints on each one of us. Getting our work done, competing against hardworking competitors, getting in shape, taking care of our health, staying in touch with our loved ones, learning new things to not stay behind, absorbing news to know what’s going on each day, and many others take time enough to fill our days twice over. If we had more time, we would likely fill it with one of the constraints, not with acts of thinking and helping others — I say “thinking,” because donating takes less than a minute.
Two, even if we wanted to help, we would likely not know who needs our help and how we can help. Both processes take time and energy. Actual helping may take more. The world today seems great at hiding pains of others with distance, pride, constant entertainment, and many others. And it makes acts of helping complex and difficult. Facing such obstacles, we often return to our default state of inaction. And this cycle of obstacles increases with the cycle of woe.
Looking back at history, the woes were reduced dramatically with the spread of democracy. This is in contrast to Steven Pinker’s point that somehow new morality rose up. Christianity had already given humanity the command to love others as themselves; only few did to their best. With democracy, however, empowerment of individuals came, and with that power to choose, more people chose to help one another. And that cycle of good has grown over the last decades.
But today’s woes make it clear that that cycle is not nearly enough. The world that constrains it is somehow growing stronger with new technologies and other events like Syrian Catastrophe. That world must be turned upside-down to work for us, not against us.
For a product to achieve this, it must do so by letting us do what we already do better, rather than requiring us to adopt an unnatural habit. It must solve over short-term and long-term all of the problems listed above naturally rather than invasively. And it must stay simple and intuitive to use now and 10 years later.
Be updated when Trees.one launches. I don’t know when that day will come, especially with me doing something else very much full-time. But it will come.