Week 2: Regaining Connectedness
As I said last week, you are the most important person in the world right now. The future of humanity rests on your shoulders. What I share with you this week and next will set the foundation for every weekly letter I will subsequently send you, for the rest of this year.
It seems to me that our species faces one essential problem. All of humanity’s greatest crises flow from it.
We have lost sight of our connectedness — the connectedness of all people and things — and it’s killing us. The task falls to you, good leader, to help humanity recover awareness of our connectedness — then to see the goodness in that connectedness — then to find a capacity to care for the people and things to whom and to which we are connected. Only then can we mobilize the practical actions that will bring healing to humanity.
We humans haven’t changed much over the past three hundred years. At least in terms of virtue and vice. Ever since humanity’s emergence out of the mists of time, we have been endowed by our Creator with two gifts: original goodness and free will. In our goodness, we have exhibited a great capacity to love, to empathize, to sacrifice, to rescue, to heal. But also, in our manic struggle to survive and procreate, we have often seized that freedom of our will to stray from our original goodness. Gripped by fear or compulsion, we’ve shrunk our circle of care — turning inward to self, tribe, nation — at others’ expense. In fear, we’ve distrusted. We’ve demonized the “other”. We’ve hoarded, we’ve acted with indifference towards the least among us, we’ve lusted for power, we’ve exploited without thought of the impact. Yes, we humans are (and always have been) both saints and sinners.
But, to flip an old saying on its head, the more things stay the same the more they change. A certain change — one that has emerged over the past three hundred years — is of the greatest consequence to the future of our species. This change is the emergence and ever-rising power of science to transform.
Born out of the Enlightenment, the scientific method gifted our world three centuries of ever-accelerating invention. We have doubled life expectancy. We have wired the globe. We have become acquainted with all the world’s cultures — their values, norms, arts and rituals. We have built global supply chains. We have rationalized crop-growing, so as to feed the world. The world’s knowledge resides in our iPhones. We are digitally connected to people and experiences like never before. In the midst of a global pandemic, we created powerful, life-saving vaccines and distributed them around the world with unprecedented speed. Who can deny the power of science to do good? The truth of science is all around us. Yes, science has been a force for great good in the world.
But science has also brought us the atom bomb and bioweapons. We’ve built powerful machinery to accelerate destruction of forests, level mountains for coal, cast ever more carbon into the atmosphere, and rake our oceans free of fish. With ubiquitous digital connectedness, we can now amplify our hate. Sophisticated artificial intelligence algorithms tempt us towards our worst impulses. Caught in a continuous digital stream of distractions, we’ve lost simple human connectivity; the never-ending images of suffering, scandalizing, lusting and grandstanding have left us empty and emotionally anesthetized.
This too is science.
Our volatile human cocktail of virtue and vice, saintliness and sinfulness hasn’t changed over the past three hundred years — but the tools available to us to act upon our virtue and vice have. After 200,000 years of human existence, in just two hundred years we have brought our entire planet to the brink of ecological disaster. In just two days we wiped out two cities: Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The point is that science is ethically neutral. It can be used for good or ill. Yet for many, science has become their god. Science discovered and mapped out evolution. So surely all we are and all we do can now be explained by evolution? Surely all problems can ultimately be solved by science? It’s called “progress”. What small, narrow people we once were, back in the old days. How smart we now are! Back then our capabilities were so primitive; we were all caught up in mysticism. We were dependent on God for everything — rain for the crops, healing from illness, survival of mother and child in childbirth. Now look at us — so much more enlightened! God is dead. Praise be to science!
As humanity wallows in ethical apathy and confusion, artificial intelligence speeds the pace of learning itself, spinning science forward faster and faster. Like never before in human history, our need for virtuous, ethical, selfless servant leaders to take the reins, to create the guardrails, is now absolute. It’s no overstatement to say that without you and leaders like you rising to this challenge, all across the globe, humanity will continue its slide towards the abyss.
Can you see, good leader, why this all comes back to you? We need leaders who know what goodness is, who are good themselves, and who will place science in service of goodness. Without ethically grounded leadership, science becomes weaponized by vice. Planet health, geopolitical stability, failed-state recovery, national political stability, community well-being, interpersonal connectedness and personal soulfulness — all are put in peril without ethical leadership.
Next week, let’s explore what it all means for you, your growth journey, and your approach to leadership. As we do, we’ll ask a key question: What’s God have to do with it?
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” — Isaiah 41:10
(For past letters and songs go to: TomMohr.com)
P.S.: Here’s the poem I wrote for you this week. It’s a reflection on this mixed bag we call progress, and what leaders can do to turn the tide. I hope you enjoy!
HEED. LEAD. LOVE.
Caught up as howl fights howl tribe by tribe,
one million species quiet go extinct.
Too much just “me” too little “we” describe
a planet and democracy so kinked.
How smart we’ve been these past one hundred years —
Amazon Prime, no God, the bomb and such.
Yet all we’ve won has come at cost so dear:
in balance, faith, and soulful human touch.
Now systems giv’n by God are overreached.
Humanity cries out for leaders new.
To rally wealth and people to the breach,
to do what only gifted leaders do.
Servant leader, can you hear Creator’s cry?
“To me, beloved, first. Then fly. Fly. FLY!”
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