Yuval Noah Harari’s ‘Sapiens’ has been sitting on my shelf for FAR too long, waiting, tantalisingly, to be read, but this past weekend I plunged in … and couldn’t put it down. I haven’t finished it yet – so, please, no spoilers – but given that there is a sequel of sorts (Homo Deus), then I am hoping it doesn’t end (yet) in total annihilation and catastrophe. As global issues become more pressing – as plastic waste builds up (and countries like Malaysia wake up to not wanting to be the dustbins of the world, and turn container ships back towards Europe), and as the biodiversity of our planet plummets – we really, really need to start considering the possibility that it won’t actually be all right after all, no matter how much we hope it will be.
In this window of time where we can choose still to hope, however, we can’t simply sit around and ruminate. Action is needed … and in this, Dr Harari gives us some direction. He deconstructs the notion of unique nationhood, and challenges what we mean by ‘Us’ and ‘Them’; moreover, he points us towards global solutions:
“The appearance of essentially global problems, such as melting ice caps, nibbles away at whatever legitimacy remains to the independent nation states. No sovereign state will be able to overcome global warming on its own… the global empire [is] being forged before our eyes”. (Chapter 11)
How, though … well, an uplifting meeting a cup of tea that I had earlier this week with a wonderful, highly experienced coach and change agent reminded me of the importance of dialogue, and it set me thinking about how we can more explicitly teach everyone (including young people – the future of the world) to engage in dialogic practice. We don’t have a lot of time, but we do need to do something. So another book is winging its way to me … William Issac’s ‘Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together’.
Watch this space.