saving-the-planetI have renewed vigor to solve every problem the world has ever had.

Some of my earliest memories are of working out how to eradicate homelessness, global hunger and war. Obviously, I didn’t succeed. My parents have always taken refuge in the religious idea that God would solve these problems, and while a part of me wasn’t super happy to hand over all of the problem solving to someone else (even God), I wasn’t quite sophisticated enough to argue for any better alternative. What resulted, however, was my belief that all the problems of the world WOULD be solved and it was just a matter of time. Homelessness, global hunger and war were in good hands.

As an adult, I went through a time of self-discovery that didn’t include a loyalty to the religion of my youth. Not a whole-sale rejection, but I definitely no longer believed saving the world was something I needed to wait on. If I wanted to see global hunger taken care of in my lifetime, then I was going to have to help facilitate it in some way.

On top of this realization (which was a big one, by the way), I had finally reached an age where I could recognize the quantity, scope, and sheer complexity of world problems. It was up to me to solve them, and they were HARD. This may sound stupid and idealistic, but at some point in my twenties I truly held the belief that it was up to me to do it all. There was a moment when the question first hit me, “How in one lifetime was I going to accomplish this?” I just zoned out on the couch with my eyes the size of saucer plates and the word “whoa” playing on loop in my brain.

In the same way the 10 year old entrepreneur realizes that in order to make a million bucks they just need to get a million people to give them a dollar, I had a slightly more complex version of this epiphany hit me in regards to saving the world: I didn’t need to solve every problem, I just needed to find people who were passionate about ONE of the problems I wanted to solve, and then do whatever I could to help THEM.

There is a lot – and I mean A LOT – of wasted human energy represented on the planet right now. We focus on the most basic necessities, get those covered and then call it good. Am I surviving? Well, I’m not dead yet. Are my safety and security needs met? I have a roof over my head, and food in the fridge. Do I have people who love me and accept me in my life? Yup, have a “Friends and Family” plan on my cell phone. All good.

couch-potatoAnd then they just… stop. Stop being ambitious, stop seeing the more they could be offering. Now, granted, it’s not exactly EASY to get all of those needs met, and a fair bit of energy is required to nail down those three things (survival, safety/security, love and belonging). But if we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s not the burden here in the United States and in other developed countries that it is for most of the world. On top of that, we’re not only lucky compared to the rest of the world, we’re extremely lucky in THIS time period of history. We have it extraordinarily cushy when you think about it, living better than Solomon in most respects.

That means this is the best time in history to capitalize on our circumstances and start REALLY looking at solutions. Sure, we still have “first world problems,” and sometimes they hurt. But let’s put things into perspective. We don’t deal with death on the scale that people did even 100 years ago, we generally have extraordinary freedom over our time (even if you work full time) since it doesn’t take, say, four hours to do laundry and we, as a culture, have gotten a little ‘soft’. That’s okay – I’m all for acclimating to a high quality lifestyle. That said, if our ancestors are any indication of what human beings can accomplish, we’ve got more inside of ourselves than we acknowledge, and often times way more than we’re actually giving.

So, let’s get back to how other people are going to save the world for me.
No one denies there’s a need to come up with solutions. Even the most zen of zen masters knows the world is mostly asleep, even if they’re accepting reality non-judgmentally. Qualitatively good or bad, there are challenges on this planet and they need people to create solutions.

No one denies that we, as a species, could be doing more. And no one thinks it’s going to happen magically. It’s going to take creativity and work from us as humans, and us as individuals.

Happily, that’s where you come in.

I have three questions for you:

1. If you could eradicate one problem on this planet, which one would it be? (Malnutrition? Sex trade? Animal cruelty? Pollution? Domestic violence? Curable diseases? Incurable disease? Be specific.)

2. What is your actual level of passion for giving value back to the planet? On the scale of “drop everything to work on the solution” to “total and complete apathy,” where do you fall?

3. What can I do to be of assistance in helping you a) develop passion to solve this challenge, and b) equip you to make it happen?

As a student of complex human systems, I’ve been blown away by the usefulness of models to solve major challenges. A lot of why we waste our energy as human assets is that we simply don’t know how (and where) to funnel our energy. We’re willing, but we very rarely feel able. And in this state of confusion and indecision, our energy slides away into a cosmic drain. But as Einstein said, if he had only an hour to save the world he’d spend 55 minutes defining the problem. Having a full understanding of ourselves first, a well-defined problem to solve next, and then a full grasp on how these two components can and should interact is the key. Understanding systems is an incredibly powerful tool when faced with the level of challenges we’re addressing here. It’s just one tool, but I feel it’s one that goes woefully forgotten, and it’s my ambition to equip every passionate, mission-driven person I come into contact with with this powerful information.

Why do I have renewed vigor to save the world?
joel-piper-antoniaI just had a baby. Tomorrow she’ll be two months old. I’m your stereotypical mid-thirties woman who was never going to have kids, got knocked up and now can’t imagine life without my amazing child. As I was looking at her alien-like, squishy newborn baby face one night, it struck me that I absolutely have to help save the world in any way that I can.

Not because I want to save it for her. I mean, yeah. That would be cool. But while I was marveling at the beauty and innocence represented in her squishy face, it struck me that every person on the planet was once a newborn baby. Not only totally dependent on others for its very existence, but a miracle for some mother all too happy to deal with exhaustion and new demands to make it happen. For every person who didn’t ask to be born but was anyway, and for every person that has to slog their way through a life of struggle based on bad luck or bad timing, I want to save the world for them. And for their mom, who only wanted the best for them.

I know, that sounds warm and squishy. I’m not usually a warm and squishy person.
However, if a renewed vigor to save the world is part of the package of new mom-hood, then I’m down with being a bit idealistic.

For the next few blog posts, I’m committing to writing (and recording) some of the absolutely most high leverage and helpful models of human development and behavior that I know of to assist anyone who has read this post and said, “YES. Saving the world. Sign me up.” So, keep your eyes peeled.

In the meantime, indulge me by answering those three questions below in the comments section.

Thanks for reading.


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  • Antonia Dodge
    • Antonia Dodge
    • February 5, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    Thank you, Summer!

    Taking that ‘plunge’ toward both living and making a living at something ‘bigger’ is possibly one of the most scary things a person can do. We get so much programming around ‘being a good little citizen’ and how making ends meet is the most important thing we can be doing that we forget those all just subjective opinions.

    Have you read “Prometheus Rising” by Robert Anton Wilson yet? I talk about it frequently in the podcast. It’s incredibly powerful for re-programming your own mind and critically reevaluating the programs other people have installed. I recommend it!

    Thanks for the comment! It’s good to see you here. :)


  • summer
    • summer
    • January 22, 2015 at 5:40 am

    1. I personally feel like many problems can be solved through generating inspiration, courage, and education. Of course life is complicated but I really feel that if a person felt better about themselves, felt the courage to act, and had the enough education to go out and get whatever other education they need, that many problems would start to solve themselves.

    2. I want to make it my life mission but I feel like there’s only so much I can do and I’m worried about security – food/roof.

    3. This article pretty much sums up my thoughts and feelings. I want to change the world, I’ve now realized how massive and complex that really is (even beyond my realization), I don’t know what to do, and my energy ends up drained into anxiety about not doing it, and not knowing where to start.

    I’ve been going back through the articles and podcasts here because I hope to rediscovery information and thoughts provided here. So much growth and change has happened in a year, so I hope to get something new and different out of them as well. It’s remarkably inspiring listening to and reading your articles Antonia! I just finished listening to the Systems Thinking podcast and it’s crazy how well it brings a lot of my own thoughts together. I guess I could just continue reading here and listening to podcasts. Any thoughts / ideas / or suggestions are absolutely welcome!

  • larry
    • larry
    • February 2, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Many of the problems to be addressed are rooted in one thing. Over population. reduce population equals a reduction on our stressed resources, pollution, food supply, and housing shortage. Reduce population equal a solution for the above problems.

  • Marie Melite Kaajan
    • Marie Melite Kaajan
    • January 12, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    Sorry, my computer cannot correct my spelling ! I speak Afrikaans that is near to Flemish,

    So English is my second langue. I do apologize.
  • Marie Melite Kaajan
    • Marie Melite Kaajan
    • January 12, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Into my children, If I say everything, I suffered but gave all of my energy and dedicated love. Sadly my daughter passed away when she was 17, something to overcome.
    I humbly consider my son as my greatest gift to change the world ! and he does ! he has
    done more better and far greater than me. His Father would be so proud of him.
    The lesson in this If only we could give more to the world in you children, that’s how we are
    changing the world ! without noticing if each generation can leave more and better….
    Sometimes you have to look where you came from, to see tomorrow. Always believe in a brighter
    Future ! After 65 years all my stars are now lined up as on my birth date, if that is not awesome!

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