It’s 4am, and I’ve been goth-clubbing with @kittylyst, which of course meant I ended up having discussions about technologies with three-letter acronyms, and how to change the world. I have strong opinions about this, so I’m sharing them with you all.
Lots of people seem to think that very few people can change the world, but I feel that’s patently false. You change the world merely by living in it. That may be supporting the status quo (which is easy), or by rallying against it (which is more difficult). But for anyone who’s fought against how things are, it can feel like progress is impossible. It can feel that no matter how hard you try, you don’t make a difference.
But that’s bollocks.
Your brain is wired to appreciate fast rewards. Things which happen today, or tomorrow. But societal and global change happen slowly; they take years, or decades, or generations. You can watch it happening, too. Between 1980 and 2010, the number of people living in extreme poverty went from 40% of the world’s population to 14%. In 2000 no country in the world had marriage equality laws; now we have twenty-two countries with same-sex marriage laws. Heck, we’re even making significant inroads on Malaria, which results in some of the most satisfying animated maps I’ve ever seen.
But none of these things have happened quickly. They’ve taken decades, and often have decades more of progress behind them which you don’t see. While we very much want the world to change overnight, it’s very rare that this happens. Progress is hard work, and in some cases it’s frustrating and unsatisfying, but it’s so absolutely and definitely possible.
And that’s what you should be working towards. Not thinking about how do I change the world tomorrow, or next week, but how do I change the rest of human existence. That may be amplifying the voices of others. It may be improving the lives of people you’ve never met. It may be discussing ideas which may be uncomfortable but necessary. It may be producing media to be watched by kids so that their children are raised in a much better society than we have today. It may be doing all of the above, and much, much more.
Good investors know how to take a long-term view, and changing the world for the better is very much an investment.
So please, don’t give up hope, don’t think your efforts aren’t making a difference. Play the long game, be willing to fight for an end-game you may never see during your natural lifetime, and don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you’re powerless. Because you’re not, but thinking you are can cause you to shy away from doing all the good that you’re genuinely capable of.
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