Why This Probably Won’t Feel Right: Banana-Shaped Clouds

If you have a gut-level doubt that the world could change, you’re probably having difficulty taking Group Genie’s work seriously.That’s because part of your brain is telling you that something is wrong with all of this, or that all this effort is pointless. That’s why I tried to neutralize some of the gut-level doubt in the article about the two dragons, the two huge doubts. But for many people, there is another set of obstacles: expectations.

Let me draw a comparison to Einstein. He came up with a nuclear chain reaction idea that eventually resulted in a spectacular explosion and a huge mushroom cloud. No one complained about the mushroom cloud, saying, “I expected a pear-shaped cloud!” And no one whined, “Why couldn’t it be a carrot-shaped cloud instead?” No one complained because no one had any prior expectations of what it should look like.

But now I come along with a human chain reaction of peace and empowerment idea. In contrast, almost everyone has prior expectations of how a peaceful world should look like. For instance, it should be Christian—no, it should be Muslim—no it should be capitalism-based—no, it should be socialist—no you get there by political means—no, you get there by improving the economy—no, you get there by everyone being environmental and living off the land… What people are basically saying is, “Oh, I demand a banana-shaped cloud!”

I doubt that I’ll ever get the respect Einstein got, because my approach conflicts with too many prior expectations. That’s partly why our approach probably doesn’t feel right or look right. But I already explained that this approach may be like the ugly boat in the beautiful, ugly boat parable. It may not look attractive, but please don’t refuse to get in.

The second reason it may not feel right is that if you have personal problems and are pessimistic about your own life, you’re not going to be optimistic about the world. In other words, when people haven’t seen positive change in their own lives for a long while, then I expect that they will unconsciously downplay the potential of these methods.

The solution to this problem is that people need to use this approach and its methods to make rapid changes in their own lives — then changing the world will seem more believable. Then this will feel right. Then it will feel believable. The more change you see on a small scale, in your life, the more believable change becomes on a large scale, in the world.

But in the mean time, you cannot demand or even expect banana-shaped clouds. In other words, you have to accept that even though my global plan won’t be like you want, it just might work, and work spectacularly—but only if you and others don’t demand to have it your way.

Now if you think about the analogy to Einstein and a nuclear cloud, you might say that it’s a false analogy. You might say, “Hey the cloud can only be mushroom-shaped because of the physics of the situation. Fused uranium atoms will superheat air and it has no choice—but people can and do have choices and can participate in a variety of structures—so your analogy is false! Moreover, Tim, since people would be part of the chain reaction, you actually do need to accommodate people’s wishes and preferences.”

Anyone who’d say the above would be accurate, but they’d be missing the point. People’s preferences are often mutually exclusive. It can’t be both a socialist and capitalistic world peace; it can’t be both a Christian and Muslim world peace. It also can’t be both hierarchical and also egalitarian with everyone on an equal footing. And so on.

It’s like the world is a sick person who says to his doctor, “I want you to heal me of my terminal disease, but I want it done — I expect it to be done — in such-and-such way.”

Of course that analogy needs some adjustments, too. First, you may say that I have no “world doctor” credentials. That’s true. But no one on Earth does.

So why should you listen to me tell you about my plan? Four reasons. First, I have generated several huge world-scale upgrades, three each potentially worth about half a trillion dollars a year. Second, I’ve been working at this for over twenty years. Third, you will find a fair amount of flexibility and accommodation in the plan. I do allow for people’s preferences and differences—up to a point. Fourth, even after all this I’m open to refinements and suggestions. So I’m not discounting or ignoring people’s preferences or opinions about how a plan should look.

But I think it comes down to sincerity. If you’re sincerely concerned about the state of the world and the suffering of the people in it, you won’t be so choosy about how the plan works, as long as it does work. But if you’re more sincerely interested in having it done according to your preferences then while you demand banana-shaped clouds know that others will be demanding pineapple- or zucchini-shaped clouds.


[The other shortcoming of my doctor-to-the-world analogy is most people underestimate how seriously ill the world is. But I can offer two kinds of proof that the world is very ill, in order to get people more receptive to the plan. The first kind of proof is to cite the works of a variety of people who’ve studied it and believe our global situation is dire. You can do a search on Lester’ Brown’s Plan B or his WorldWatch Institute Reports; Martin Rees’ Our Final Hour; or David Pollard’s pessimistic analyses on his How to Save the World blog.]

But since many people will say I’ve picked the most pessimistic predictions, a better kind of proof is for people to take the Ecological Lifestyle Assessment and think about how the average person would score on the assessment. That assessment roughly lists the actions that a person would need to take to live a world-sustaining lifestyle. It covers much more than typical “carbon footprint” assessments because according to our Golden Rule 2.0 framework, people’s futures depend not only on the environment but on political, social and economic stability as well. My experience with groups of very concerned people who take the assessment is that they realize that they fall considerably short even though they consider their efforts well above average. When they are asked to consider people who do much less than them, they realize that we are severely destabilizing and weakening our life-support systems. Eventually there’s a point where a life-support system collapses. This is why superprograms and the other upgrades were  created; to produce chain reactions of empowerment that would catch up with and undo the damage.]

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