Why Give a Damn:
For almost all of human history, the vast majority of people in the world believed that it was impossible to fly to the Moon. Today, the majority of people believe that it is impossible to lift the entire global population out of poverty. Nothing is impossible.
The author of this post, Ron Garan, is a Fighter Pilot, Test Pilot, Social Entrepreneur, Astronaut, and Aquanaut. And most unreasonably, through his social enterprise incubator the Manna Energy Foundation he has helped to bring drinking water to millions in Africa in a completely financially self sustaining way via his company, Manna Energy Ltd.
Floating 100 feet above the space station, looking down at this incredible man-made accomplishment against the backdrop of our indescribably beautiful Earth, 240 miles below, I saw a world where natural and man-made boundaries shrunk. From this “orbital perspective”, I saw a world becoming more and more interconnected and collaborative, a world where the exponential increase in technology was making the impossible possible on a daily basis. Thinking about the next 50 years, I imagined a world where people and organizations set aside their differences and unhealthy competitive inclinations, and work together toward their common goals.
Right now there are literally millions of organizations around the world working to improve life on Earth, yet for the most part, these organizations are not engaged in a unified, coordinated effort. There is a great deal of duplication of effort, loss of efficiency, and unfortunately, in many cases, unhealthy competition.
We already possess all of the technology we need to enable true global collaboration that is consistent and world changing. Our real challenge lies in demonstrating how vital and valuable collaboration is, despite the real and perceived risks. Open collaborations make solutions more effective and efficient through the pooling of resources and information. Working together multiplies cost-effectiveness while reducing duplication of effort. It is the only real way to enable economies and solutions of scale. Perhaps most importantly, collaboration encourages greater accountability, which, in turn, fosters trust. We are all in this together, and the only way we are going to overcome the challenges facing our world is by working together.
Our real challenge lies in demonstrating how vital and valuable collaboration is.
If we share common goals, true collaboration is the only means to achieve them. An effective collaboration mechanism will pair critical challenges with vital solutions, bringing together unique pieces of the puzzle and enabling us to learn from each other’s successes and failures, making all these organizations’ technologies and approaches considerably more effective than they would be otherwise. Since there are multiple organizations looking to develop tools to enable collaboration, it is critical to unify those efforts.
We can solve many of the challenges facing our planet –including the alleviation of poverty.
After all, each and every one of us is riding through the Universe together on this Spaceship we call Earth, we are all interconnected, we are all in this together and we are all family. Floating above the Earth, I imagined a world where open and transparent collaborations become the engines that fuel tremendous economic growth and help us obliterate many of the problems facing our planet. I imagined that those individuals and organizations that engage in unhealthy competition, secretive dealings, corruption, and adhere to an exclusively propriety mindset, see themselves being left behind and have to adapt, evolve and take on a much more effective collaborative focus in order to keep up with the economic growth that collaboration will bring. I imagined a world where we are all unified in the belief that by working together we can accomplish anything.
For almost all of human history, the vast majority of people in the world believed that it was impossible to fly to the Moon – simply because it had never been done before. Human ingenuity and the determination of the human spirit proved this wrong: it was possible. Today, the majority of people believe that it is impossible to solve many of the problems of the world. It is widely believed that is impossible to lift the entire global population out of poverty. “There have always been poor in the world and there always will be,” they say. If we adapt instead the same collaborative mindset and practices that got us to the Moon and back, that built an enormous research facility in orbit, we can solve many of the challenges facing our planet –including the alleviation of poverty.
The first step towards affecting real change is to believe that real change is possible.
Nothing is impossible.
The first step towards affecting real change is to believe that real change is possible. If we all commit to work together I believe that in the next 50 years it is possible to live in a world without poverty, where no one dies from preventable and curable diseases, where everyone has access to clean water and no one goes to sleep hungry, in a world that educates all its children. And, I believe that we are presently living in a world where the possibilities are endless, and where we are limited only by our imagination and our will to act. We don’t have to be in orbit to have the orbital perspective. We just have to apply it to our work here on this planet.
When we commit to working together, we boldly challenge the status quo.