The Global Tribe
All humans belong to the same species: Homo Sapiens. There is no significant distinction between people who developed in separate regions around the world. Some of the differences one sees, like color of skin, shape of some facial features, size and hair style, are the product of minor adjustments to local environments. Fundamentally, every one of us share the basic biological configuration that is expressed from DNA.
However, it is easily verifiable that this sameness or commonality has not translated into a stable coexistence amongst humans. Our animal instincts exist and have not changed much from those of other species related to us. Our fight-or-flight response to danger, for example, is the same as that of other mammals.
Another reality is that for most of our human history, geographic distribution has played an important role in shaping our vision of ourselves. People from the north adapted to the cold and witnessed brutal living conditions. People from the tropics were blessed with ideal living conditions, but confronted dangers not seen in the north, like large lions and tigers. As people, we lived in our own little tribes for millennia.
Around 150 thousand years ago, we developed the ability to speak. This step-function in our evolution is a prime suspect as being the catalyst that drove the development of our modern brain. With language came many things. Many inventions, such as agriculture. The wheel. Domestication of animals. But there is a singular event that put our species into hyper-drive. This event was the invention of the steam engine (Brynjolfsson, McAfee, 2015). This invention, for the first time, gave humans almost infinite scalability of the force produced by their muscles. This invention was the enabler of humanity’s first industrial revolution.
Thus, as humans, we entered an era of massive change. Our ability to disrupt our natural systems became unnatural. Nature was no longer our mother, she became our playground. Human curiosity continued to develop and the thirst for the new took our species to extremes no other animal could ever dream of. We became the species that could dream, and make those dreams come true. We transcended our biological limitations by harnessing the power of nature in ways no other being could do.
Adding impetus to this hyper-driving of our society, the advent of computers, information technology and the internet opened the door to a second industrial revolution: One of the mind. Now, humans can not only leverage their muscles using machinery, but also can scale the power of their minds using software, algorithms and computers.
While all these novel developments were occurring, people moved from the farm to cities and established lifestyles heavily dependent on machines. But our primal configuration or instincts that evolved over millions of years did not change much. We are fundamentally the same animal as were our human ancestors from thousands of years ago and retain many of the social characteristics that helped us survive in those early, rough years.
I believe the time has come for our social constructs to adjust to the new technological reality and what it affords us. We are now a global, predatory species with a conscience. We can use our ability for rationality and our technological prowess to establish a new consensus about our specie’s reason for existing. We are not just animals. We are rational animals. We are self-aware and can talk about it with any other human around the planet. We are in a league of our own.
Thus, the structures that helped us survive as a species prior to the internet era are seemingly old and out of date. Religions, governments, social constructs are now poised for change. How is it that we still allow old, outdated institutions to organize how we live? One reason is that we have not devoted enough time – as a community – to re-imagine what it means to be human in what is now a global tribe.
If we focus on the fact that we are the same animal species living in a rocky planet with water – the only one we know of that can sustain life -- we can then begin to formulate a new story about our common fate. If people fundamentally believe we are equal beings and believe that every human is a part of a global tribe, we can then engage all humans in a dialog to articulate new foundational principles that will govern our global tribe. This is a global movement because we are a global species.
This story must be intricately connected to mother nature. It has to be, because our survival depends on it. The components of this common story are all too familiar, but I propose expressing them through the voice of the global tribe. Some of these components of the story are:
- No human is more important than other human,
- Humans have the right to participate on matters of their local community and the global tribe,
- Humans have the obligation to care for all children, as they are the future of the species,
- Humans have the obligation to respect elderly humans, as they are the bridge to the prosperity of future generations,
- Humans have the obligation to live in harmony with other living beings, other humans and with nature and,
- Humans have the obligation to respect the rights of other humans and living beings.
We can use Professor McDowell’s Civic Design framework to craft, from these components, the story that unites us. This common story is our catalyst or platform for action.