– On Huffington Post by Arianna Huffington
Abundance: A Reminder of the Need to Focus on Our Surpluses and Not Just Our Shortages
As we move further into the presidential campaign, we’re going to hear a lot about the ways we’re lacking and where we fall short. And though the conversation has rightly and finally shifted to the need to grow the economy, much of it is still dominated by hysterical and destructive demands to impose deficit-cutting austerity even before the economy gets back on its feet (which would only increase, not cut, the deficit).
Of course, it’s only right that we should focus on where we’re coming up short. Those of us in the media focus too much on autopsies and not enough on biopsies of our problems. So, yes, let’s talk about our shortages — of jobs and revenue and good ideas coming from our leaders. But let’s start talking much more about our surpluses.
With unemployment still over 8 percent, we currently have more ingenuity, energy, spirit, and expertise than we have jobs — and definitely more time on our hands. And the story of how this abundance is being put to use, of what is working and how we can scale it, has been part of HuffPost’s mission from the very beginning — and was the guiding principle behind the recent launch of our Good News section.
That’s why I was so drawn to a new book by Peter Diamandis, who has been a friend for many years and is the CEO and chairman of the X Prize Foundation (of which I am a board member). Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think, co-written by Steven Kotler, arrives in a world facing multiple crises and awash in pessimism. And it offers three things in short supply: solutions, perspective and, just as important, optimism.
Arguing, as Diamandis and Kotler do, that the world is getting steadily, demonstrably better carries multiple hazards: of tone-deafness; of giving short shrift to suffering, corruption, and the parts of the world — including many parts of America — that are in steady, demonstrable decline.
But Abundance is not a work of Pollyannaism. The portraits of brilliant and empathetic minds at work improving the human condition are not an excuse to ignore the many areas in which our leaders and institutions are failing us. Rather, they are a reminder of the possibility of doing good by tapping into our collective intelligence and wisdom — and into game-changing advances in technology. As Diamandis and Kotler point out, a Maasai tribesman living in Kenya today with a cellphone has better mobile communications than President Reagan had 25 years ago. And if it’s a smartphone with an Internet connection, the tribesman has instant access to more knowledge and information than President Clinton had just 15 years ago…