Innovating our way forward
Molineaux is co-publisher of The Fulcrum and president/CEO of the Bridge Alliance Education Fund.
Each day, I’m reminded that, while I expect most systems to work seamlessly, they are no longer one-hundred percent reliable. When my internet goes down or my phone locks, I’m annoyed by the inconvenience. I feel anxious because words are weaponized; changing meanings almost overnight. Or how some words may have different meanings depending on the culture. I need to be better at acknowledging gender pronouns so I don’t accidentally cause offense. Through this change, I drift into nostalgia, remembering a past that wasn’t so personally hard to navigate or filled with seeming landmines. And I have compassion for those who have always been challenged to “code switch” for my comfort. I’m getting a small taste of what others have lived through.
While this time feels like a breaking down of the old, no-longer-effective systems, it also offers the potential to break through to a new culture that works for us all. We are currently in the uncomfortable place in between. We are seeking an innovative shift in our culture; one that is centered on humanity, and fulfilling the promise of our founding documents – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – for all people.
I have also been pondering the process of innovation and our willingness to let go of nostalgia since seeing a meme that stated:
“No amount of innovation applied to a candle would have produced a light bulb.”
The problem of illumination after the sun goes down has been solved by fire-based solutions for millennia. Yet, I would never trade the ease of flipping a light switch to go back to candles and lanterns. My nostalgia for candlelit dinners doesn’t mean I want to return to olden times.
Similarly, I wonder why are we holding onto our nostalgia for a more white/cis-centric society, that obviously doesn’t work for everyone? Is it the fear of the unknown? Is it an underlying racial bias? Is it the concern for the loss of power? Because it’s more comfortable for some of us? Better that we innovate a new society that works for all.
When inventing new illumination methods, scientists began by conducting experiments. Through this process, they learned what worked or didn’t work. There were gas-lighting (too fire-prone), electric arc lighting (too bright) and 23 other incandescent bulbs produced (too expensive) before Edison’s incandescent bulb. The effort, once begun, took more than 50 years to innovate a marketable solution and another 40 years for the infrastructure to be built that still supports the lightswitch flipping we take for granted today. And thus as technology evolves and takes time we must evolve and take the time to adapt and understand. Patience is obviously needed.
The inventors started with a human need for illumination after dark.
Using the aforementioned thought pattern as a guide, what is the human need within our communities today? Or in our nation? Having the right problem identified will allow us to experiment and iterate effectively, innovating as we go. Here are some quick ideas of what we need:
- Opportunities for individuals to thrive.
- Education about the opportunities available.
- Responsibility by individuals to give back to the community.
- Leaders who are responsive to their constituents.
What would you add?
Individually, we need to create conditions in which people can:
- Feel and be safe.
- Be able to provide for themselves and their families.
- Feel a sense of belonging.
- Contribute to something bigger than themselves.
You’ll notice that in addition to the material needs of food and shelter (providing for ourselves and family), most human needs are about a sense of security and belonging, which allows them to contribute back to the overall community. Our current systems do not provide for these immaterial needs, hence our society breaks down. Innovative solutions must and will address these human needs.
So much of our media and entertainment is focused on surviving a coming apocalypse. And in a sense, they are right that a way of life is ending. We have come to the end of an era; which is inevitably followed by a new era, necessitating we create the foundation for our next era interpersonally.
Let’s identify the unmet human needs and begin innovating to meet those needs. Perhaps then we will have a positive peace, based in liberty and justice for all.