Whose Field Are You Ploughing?
There is evidence that early humans were using one natural compound to fashion a softer one into a useful implement well over 300,000 years ago. This process known as “bruting” is a skill that is still practised today and is the basis on which gemstones are cut and crafted. It would seem craftsmanship never dies, it passes from one generation to the next like DNA through our chromosomes and evolves to become more refined through practice.
Humans are distinguished from all other species on this earth by our manual and mental dexterity; sophisticated use of tools and ingenuity in terms of inter-special cooperation. From the moment we began using horses to pull our ploughs and harrows, and to transport us from A to B our world could never again be the same. In the taming and domestication of another species to support or undertake tasks beyond the physiological range of our own capability, humans are unsurpassed. Today we no longer rely on other species in this way although we have so far been unable to tame the mightiest of all beasts, the self-serving ego.
“Who Wants to be Eaten Alive By a Tiger?”
If scalable collaboration through technology was the first miracle of the pre-industrial era and the incidental cause of our disassociation with nature, the second miracle promises to be how to scale without compromising the delicate symbiosis of humanity’s relationship with the planet. Social and technological progress has had the effect of further alienating us from nature and all the benefits it brings and perhaps explains somewhat our poor regard for our own health as well as the health of the planet we inhabit. Today, these miraculous innovations occur at such an astonishing rate it’s difficult to keep pace unless we’re constructively involved in the new economies that generate them. Note the phrase “constructively involved”.
“We Don’t Have to Be the Meat in the Big Data Pie”
We don’t have to be the 21st-century beasts of burden for the faceless technology giants whose omnipresent products and services dominate how we perceive the world and the choices we have to address it. We will come back to this. Suffice for now to say, if we’re using digital tools for any purpose other than to connect, create and share value then we are most likely the raw material from which the new economic powerhouses manufacture their products and services. Like the unwitting customers of Sweeny Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street, we’re destined to end up as meat in one of Mrs Lovett’s mysteriously delicious pies.
At the same time, there is good news, it is so easy to learn to use these tools with skill and purpose. With a small tweak in the way we engage with the digital world, personal transformation and a world of possibilities is only ever a click or two away and we no longer need to sell our soul to obtain it. We will need to reconnect to our creative core, the inner child who sees and feels no artificial barriers between what is perceived, experienced and expressed in any given moment. We will need to feel fear and love and loathing and not let it distort the reality of the interconnected nature of our humanity. We will at times need to fall silent when we want to scream; be still when we want to run away or lash out. We will need to remember we are human first and believe no effort directed with pure intent toward ourself or another is ever a waste of time.
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