When we talk about building an empathic civilization, we’re not talking about utopia. We’re talking about the ability of human beings to show solidarity not only with each other, but with our fellow creatures who have a one and only life on this little planet.Rifkin traces a history of human development similar to the story I tell about organization over three millennia. He then asks a provocative question:
Is it possible that we could actually extend our empathy to the entire human race as an extended family, and to our fellow creatures as part of our evolutionary family, and to the biosphere as our common community?Essentially what Rifkin describes, albeit briefly in the animation and in far more depth in his massive book, is the creation of civilization-ba, and the types of connections that are consistent with Valence Theory. He describes how the technologies that create UCaPP – ubiquitous connectivity and pervasive proximity – also enable the “empathic embrace” of Haiti among the entire human race mere hours after the disastrous earthquake.
At the Enlightenment, we were “materialistic, self-interested, utilitarian, and pleasure-seeking,” according to Rifkin’s reading of the philosophers of that time. But no longer: a UCaPP world means we are bound in relationships that enable Rifkin’s empathic civilization, and define my Valence Theory. I agree with Rifkin: we have to extend our identities to realize that we are all – as I express it – members of one organization, and to rethink the human narrative, as he expresses it. Only this fundamental reconception will save us from the worst aspects of what we can be: narcissistic, materialistic, violent, and aggressive.
Take ten minutes and watch the video. It’s well worth it.
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