Davos 2019: Six Questions about Our Future That We Shouldn’t Expect the Forum to Answer
Once again, over 3,000 of the world’s richest people, world leaders, decision makers and economists are convened in the picturesque, snowy city of Davos, Switzerland. The rich and powerful members of the global 1% club will spend five days in person to do business, as they enjoy luxurious feasts and cocktail parties.
But they also have to make sure that their initiative seems important and beneficial for everyone else in the world. To that end, the World Economic Forum has published six pressing questions to discuss with regards to humanity’s future. Ironically, the public is invited to offer solutions to challenges that the forum members themselves have been creating, yet don’t know how to solve.
Here are my answers to their questions.
1. How to save the planet without killing economic growth?
Undoubtedly, we are killing the planet while also hurting ourselves in more direct ways. The current economic paradigm fails to prioritize our well-being and happiness, and the current measurement of economic growth has no future. I do not see it as “growth” in the first place.
The future of our planet and everyone on it depends on rethinking the goal of our economy from the ground up. We have to initiate a fundamental change of values: from continuously chasing the accumulation of wealth to discovering the fountain of lasting happiness that comes from positive human connections.
Then, thinking about growth as an increase in GDP will be completely irrelevant, since the role of the economy will be to help us focus on making positive connections. In turn, we will have new definitions and measurements for “growth,” and they will not conflict with the health of our planet.
2. Can you be a patriot and a global citizen?
In the not-so-distant future, this will no longer be an issue. We are heading towards an era of global interdependence, where the well-being of each nation is directly influenced by the well-being of all other nations.
As Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag wrote in his article “Peace in the World,” “Indeed, we have already come to such a degree that the whole world is considered one collective and one society. Meaning, each person draws his life’s marrow and livelihood from all the people of the world, and is forced to serve and care for the well-being of the whole world.”
In other words, humanity’s interdependence is evolutionary and inevitable. It will make clear to us that being a patriot means caring for the interests of all of mankind, as no nation will be able to secure its interests otherwise.
That being said, when it comes to mass immigration, open-border policies such as those put forth by European leaders are a grave mistake. They generate new problems, making immigrants a burden on the host countries much more than a contribution, all the while disrupting the socio-cultural fabric. If the current trend continues, within a few decades, European culture will be a thing of the past.
Rather than trying to pour third world populations into the west, we should help them where they are, so they can provide for their basic needs and develop higher standards of living without eliminating their cultural characteristics. Being global citizens doesn’t mean that everyone should be the same. It means that everyone’s well-being is equally important.
3. What should work look like in the future?
Consider the following scenario: You tell a smart machine about something you need. The machine orders it from a bot that sends the order to another machine that produces what you need, which ends up in the belly of another machine that delivers it to your house.
In other words, there will be very little place for human labor in the future. It’s not a question of whether it will happen, it’s a question of how fast. Therefore, to account for the future of work, once again we have to flip our mindset and ask ourselves what is the purpose of work in the first place?
When we move away from the narrative of cyclical production and consumption, to a narrative of balance with nature and connection among people, the concept of work will change accordingly. In other words, most of the jobs that will require people in the future will be those that facilitate positive connections between families, communities, societies and so forth.
4. How do we make sure technology makes life better, not worse?
The positive or negative impact of technology relies 100% on whether we educate ourselves to internalize and embrace our interdependence, to feel that we are all parts of a single interconnected system.
Self-centered, narrow-sighted people will create technology that will facilitate self-destruction. Conscious people with a connected mindset will create technology that will contribute to all of mankind. It’s that simple.
Therefore, the future of technology relies entirely on changing our values to support our shared future.
5. How do we create a fairer economy?
First, the discussions that will take place in Davos certainly won’t help make a fairer economy. If anything, they will make things worse. In an economy that serves the 1% so well, the 1% will perpetuate it by all means.
Here is a pragmatic proposal: let’s introduce a new, “planetary tax” of 20% on the total wealth owned by corporations, tycoons, and developed countries, for the sake of educating all people to live in a globally interdependent world.
Without such an educational program, we will find ourselves increasingly fighting each other through inequality, injustice, extreme political and social polarization, trade wars and more, all of which can lead to violent conflicts in and between countries.
The cost of implementing such a global educational program would not be very high, and yet, it is the safest investment for the future. The rest of the funds should be invested in creating the necessary conditions for decent life standards in underdeveloped areas, a much better solution than mass migration.
The elite are very aware that reducing inequality will do good for the economy in general and for their positions in particular. And yet, even when their mind understands, their heart does not agree. Their ego doesn’t let their hand reach into their pocket and give some of their wealth to the 99%.
For the very wealthy, money is much more than purchasing power. It is a powerful emotional fulfillment — the spiritual fulfillment of their ego. The only thing that can convince them to work on creating a fairer economy is a change of social values.
Human beings are social creatures and even the super-rich cannot escape their social nature. If our society will position materialism as purely functional, and appreciate contribution to society instead, people will begin to feel ashamed about self-hoarding. What’s more, people who contribute to human society will gain a lofty spiritual fulfillment that is much stronger than money.
6. How do we get countries working together better?
Unfortunately, it cannot happen right away. Nature is pushing the world towards a higher level of integration, one that’s based on a profound and genuine sense of human connection, rather than personal or national interests.
Therefore, any kind of unification we try to do on the surface will fail. If you will, we are headed towards a global kind of “Brexit.” In the near future, I see nations looking more and more into securing their borders and practicing protectionism, with Trump paving the way for many other leaders to follow.
However, this development is for the better, because trying to forge integrations without changing ourselves in the process, means setting ourselves up for greater conflicts.
Think about a bunch of different people who come from broken families or bad neighborhoods. If you put them all together, you’re not going to get a good result. This is the state of humanity today — we all come from a broken home — a culture of unfettered human egoism and lack of human connection.
The founder of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, was right in warning that “failing to adopt a new cooperative approach would be a tragedy for humankind.”
However, adopting such an approach would mean that we have to change the human being. Nothing less will do. In order to be ready for the new interdependent world, we need to become interdependent in our minds and hearts first.