Annual opioid fatalities now nearly equal American lives lost in the entire Vietnam war, yet the large public protests seen against this latter injustice do not occur against this more lethal killer. Are we simply complacent against this government sanctioned menace or are the pressures of modern life insurmountable without pharmaceutical assistance? Why is the wealthiest nation on earth also home to some of the highest rates of cancer, diabetes, obesity and heart disease on the planet? We spend a staggering four and a half hours a day watching television yet struggle to spend twenty minutes exploring the proven benefits of meditation. Are we too asleep chasing dreams to realize that goals require us to awaken?
In a nation that spends more on its pets than its homeless, a societal and spiritual awakening has never been closer or more sorely needed. The relationship between wealth and happiness has been well described in a popular book written at least 2019 years ago, yet we chase after an American dream that has left so many feeling dissatisfied and disillusioned. Does history continue to repeat itself precisely because we don’t learn from it, or are we at the cusp of a global awakening of collective consciousness that has deep power to unlock true human potential? Impending technological freedom from the shackles of traditional employment will allow many more of us to embark on exploratory journeys down our neural pathways, a basic human cognitive liberty that will have to be recognized by elected bodies wishing to remain in office.
Ego Trip: A Journey to Nowhere
Meaningful changes in communication, energy and transportation have led to revolutions of various kinds. While the telegram, steam engine and locomotive led us into the first industrial revolution at the end of the eighteen century; the telephone, the internal combustion engine and the automobile led us into the second at the end of the nineteenth. The end of the twentieth century brought us squarely into the information age, and we may well soon be embarking on a different kind of revolution.
Communication: Unimaginable until recently, it is now a reality that nearly 3.5 billion people trade audio, video and text at minimal cost. This incredible information exchange has contributed to many liberating events including the Arab Spring, the Libyan revolution and the Me Too movement. It is expected that 75% of the world’s population will gain internet access within three years, a number expected to hit 90% by 2030. Our voices are getting louder, and increasing volumes lead to inconceivable repercussions.
Energy: Battery power, hydro-electric, bio-fuel and even coal produced with carbon sequestration are all contributing to a change in our relationship with fossil fuels. Our shift towards increased adoption of these renewable technologies will have an undeniable impact on climate change, public health and ‘natural’ disasters such as earthquakes. Self-charging cities are a short-term reality, and the future of energy is a bright green.
Transportation: Connected and autonomous vehicles on land, air and sea are on the cusp of changing travel for goods and people in a way that is safer, smarter and less destructive. Self-driving cars, hyper loop transport, human delivery drones and smart cities are but a few examples of technologies that will soon take us away from the resource consuming, accident-prone and pollution causing transportation systems of today.
As technological solutions move us from resource scarcity towards resource abundance, we gain the kind of power that brings with it immense responsibility. Growth requires change as creativity requires destruction. Change occurs at the edge of discomfort, and those of us who embrace it bear a responsibility to help those who struggle with it. We can’t collectively move forward by leaving people behind, and our impending seismic societal evolution thus requires a paradigm shift in collective perspective.
Doing business with more strangers across greater distances requires us to build longer bridges of understanding across deeper chasms. The unfolding global return of cannabis after 80+ years in exile provides compassion and healing at a time when it is sorely needed. Socially acceptable cannabis consumption adds community, compatibility, collaboration, contribution and consciousness to its individual lessons of creativity and contemplation. What makes us human is less ourselves and more each other, and cannabis brings with it a powerful thread to weave the social fabric around us just a little bit tighter.
The world has never changed this quickly before and will never change this slowly again. In such an environment, collaboration becomes the ultimate competition and community the ultimate liberation. True power is far deeper than the external trappings of ego, wealth and position. It is but a poor person who has just money and title. True power lies in stripping away our societal roles to own our raw and cold-pressed selves. True power is vulnerability, empathy, love and gratitude. True power is appreciation of our strengths and acceptance of our shortcomings. True power lies in that which can never be taken away from you.