Here’s Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, but We Could

A list of our biggest problems.

We have a staggering empathy gap.

Even rats display more empathy than we’ve seen in a lot of humans lately. Researchers at the University of Chicago conducted experiments that showed most rats would let another rat out of a cage and share a piece of chocolate, rather than leave each other to starve. By contrast, tell me how much empathy you see in these tweets:

Tweet

We think we’re invincible.

Millions of Americans still think nothing bad will ever happen to them if they exercise and take vitamins. They feel qualified to assess the state of their own health based on how they feel in the morning.

We think we’re the best country in the world.

Americans are watching the collapse of India’s healthcare system. They’re thinking, “That can’t happen here.”

We don’t really think about the future.

U.S. Intelligence released a depressing report about what we can expect over the next 20 years. They offer different scenarios:

We think we can’t change anything.

Beneath our toxic positivity and individualism, there’s a deep fatalism. We secretly think if the world is on a downward spiral, there’s no reason to alter our behavior. We might as well save ourselves.

We need to embrace collectivism.

Empathy is the ultimate survival skill. Throughout history, it has enabled us to cooperate to overcome a harsh, indifferent world. It also helps us overcome our worst enemy — ourselves. That’s true in an individual sense, but also a collective one. If we can’t overcome our own smallness and selfishness, then nobody’s going to make it through the next two decades except the current slate of billionaires and their families.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store