The Epic Face-Off: A Vision of Humanity’s Collective Potential vs. Bigotry/Xenophobia
We are definitely in it, this contest between progressive advancement of society and deeply entrenched fears and animosities. Some days I wistfully remember that, 30 years ago, I believed that this aspect of our work (diversity, inclusion and equity) wouldn’t really be needed by this late date. I was optimistic, and choosing to ignore the fact that society just does not change quickly, no matter how reasonable, sensible, ethical and practical the desired shift, more’s the pity. Homeostasis, even when it is miserable, is preferred by the human collective over change. It’s actually a hard-wired aspect of who we are. In the face of that, it can be hard to take solace in “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it aims toward justice” when we are living in the middle of that seemingly interminable arc.
Today, we are in yet another moment when we need to keep our eyes on the prize. When we allow ourselves to deeply, fully, joyfully envision the future for humanity that is our dearest hope, we are lifted up, renewed and invigorated in our pursuit of a human existence that is caring, just and equitable for every one of us. We have, every day, evidence that we are capable of moral greatness as individuals and as a species. We see it in acts small and large, from kindness to a stranger to entire countries welcoming refugees of war and disaster. Our capacity for goodness is astounding. As Desmond Tutu has said: “We have seen some wonderful human beings –– Mahatma Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa. What that says is that ultimately good prevails. It is a moral universe, despite all appearances to the contrary. Hahahaha! It is that… there’s no way in which evil will ultimately triumph.”
What does this mean on a daily basis? It directs us to live in this moment with conviction that we are ultimately on the right path. We have the mountaintop in our sight and know where we are headed on our journey, even as we slip into deep crevasses and slog through swamps and contest with misguided souls who stand in our way. One step at a time, always toward our goal, with firm determination grounded in inspired hope.
As has been recently observed, Trump and his ilk are a vaccination against the disease of electoral complacency that we have been lulled into. We now are powerfully reminded of the vital importance of being in action to drive toward our image of healthy democracy. When we keep our beautiful vision in mind, we naturally move toward it. We are inoculated against despair and empower ourselves to live into the dream.
In the corporate world, the confluence of regressive politics and demographic change is turning out to be quite the bracing tonic. It is clear to most of us that a positive future for humanity (and for business) everywhere will depend on a foundation of deeply effective equity and inclusion, one that allows the genius of our highly social species to bloom for our collective success. Our potential for living into the dream is magnificent.
Yes, the messes we’ve made will take a painfully long time to clean up, from post-colonial cultural dissolution to post-industrial economic disenfranchisement, but we have to keep on. The alternative is failure of this brilliant, beautiful, and terrifying evolutionary experiment of homo sapiens. I’m not going there, as a matter of conviction, faith, and sheer stubbornness. I’ve bet all my stake on our better nature winning out, in the end. How about you?