This is a rewrite of something we published back in September. There was so much good stuff percolating excitedly in here that we just had to go back, sort it out, and say it better, now that we're telling stories about connection and peace.
Paul Hawken, in one of our recommended books, Blessed Unrest, writes,
"What has changed recently, and has offered evidence that hope may be a rational act despite the onslaught of countervailing data, is the use of connectivity. Individuals are associating, hooking up, and identifying with one another. ... They are forming units, inventing again and again pieces of a large organism, enjoining associations and volunteers and committees and groups and assembling these into a mosaic of activity as if they were solving a jigsaw puzzle without ever having seen the picture on its box.
"The insanity of human destructiveness may be mismatched by an older grace and intelligence that is fastening us together in ways we have never before seen or imagined."
That's right. Despite evidence to the contrary, hope is a rational act -- because we're connecting with each other as never before. You and I have got this crazy, powerful worldwide phenomenon of global media right at our fingertips, this sudden and awesome ability to form meaningful, life-altering connections with people anywhere, people who in any previous era would have remained permanently strangers, permanently other to us.
And if we keep doing it, with deliberate intention, we'll create what Paul so poetically calls a mismatch between the tendency to destruct and the tendency toward peace -- we at HumanKind like to think of it as an imbalance, a tipping point, where we go from lack of connection, to connection. When we're connected, when we feel like the world is not a place full of strangers, we're less likely to harm each other. We'll have found the tipping point to peace.
Remember the tipping point? That's a "previously rare phenomenon becoming rapidly and dramatically more common," as described in The Tipping Point, by Malcom Gladwell. That's a new recommendation of an "old" book, worth reading if you didn't when it came out. Gladwell explores the tipping point of social phenomena, from the educational impact of Sesame Street, to the whimsical proliferation of Ya Ya sisterhoods across America, to the horrifically high rate of teen suicides in Micronesia in the 1970s and 80s -- how an idea, for good or bad, can spread just like a virus, and under what conditions of connection it catches on and grows exponentially.
We at HumanKind Media would like to create a tipping point around connection -- an exponentially expanding base of people connecting with each other, tapping into each other's creativity, developing an endless series of possibilities for evolutionary social change.
Part of Gladwell's theory relates to Milgram's small world experiments which some of us know as the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon. Thank you, Wikipedia (whom we will have much more to write about in the future.)
Gladwell attributes the viral spread of an idea to connectors, people who have a special gift for connecting people and ideas; mavens, information specialists who gather and share information; and persuaders, the sales team, the evangelists.
Which are you when it comes to healing the world? A little bit of everything, I bet. If you've got connections that can help us grow our little blog and our big community of HumanKind, let us know. If you like the idea of an alternate media with different kinds of information than you get at the grocery store (yeah, I do it, too), be a maven. Spread the word by e-mailing this blog to people you know who are connectors, mavens, and persuaders. If you're a persuader and you like some of the causes you're reading about in our blogs and links, please persuade a few of your friends (seven or eight at a time, and no more than 150, according to Gladwell) to join you in a cause, the HumanKind Challenge, or any cause you feel connected to.
And along the lines of Ze Frank and Chris Baty, here's a little evidence of the possibilities that lie in making connections -- it's silly, but it makes the point: It's the story of Kyle MacDonald, the Canadian who traded up from a paper clip to a house by making more and more connections around the world. If you've got eight minutes, watch the 20/20 clip about Kyle, or check out his new book, One Red Paperclip. Too cool.