by Roger Eaton, March 2014, updated November 2016
The world, our world, Planet Earth is in trouble, a trouble of our own making. Humanity, by a combination of population growth and an ever more powerful technology, has overstepped Nature’s limits. Civilization as it goes is not sustainable and will collapse, and in the non-linear way of things, all too likely sooner rather than later.
The peaceful transition to a sustainable world requires global trust and cooperation between the nations and religions, and also the active support of the people everywhere. We love our nations and our religions, and won’t give them up, so in this shift to a larger sense of unity, we need to be thinking how we can motivate the nations and religions to be willing partners.
InterMix Voices of Humanity (VoH) Software has a role to play here. This new form of social media is distinguished by being community-centered rather than focusing on the individual. Sure, it has the usual wall or time-line and you can befriend or follow people. But what really distinguishes Voices of Humanity is that it provides a “collective voice” for each of the participating communities. Members of a community rate each other’s messages and the highest rated messages are easily available online as the community’s collective voice.
There are millions of groups and networks working on problems which have a global component, i.e., problems which would be so much easier to resolve if we lived in a united and cooperative world. As the most obvious for-instance, in such a world there would be no war and all the resources devoted to the military could be used for education, health, clean water and so forth, not forgetting the sustainability issues. If all these millions of groups and networks could bring their influence to bear in a coordinated way, we would have a reasonable chance of making the great transition from an us-versus-them world to the unity-and-diversity world that we really really need asap.
Working in our favor, there is a natural alliance between the individual and humanity against the excesses of the nations and religions. As individuals we support humanity so we can end war and torture and find a way to live in harmony with the natural systems of Earth. In return, humanity, which after all is us, cherishes and protects each of us as free individuals whose potential is to be nurtured, not cut short.
Voices of Humanity has a single shared forum. The forum has controls enabling breakout by community and geographic level from global to city. A bottom up networking capability will be coming in early 2017. For every community/geographic level there are the six “voices of humanity”: women, men, youth, experience, wisdom and humanity-as-one. Again, coming in early 2017, at each new moon, the highest rated message from each Voice will go out via email to members of that Voice/community/level.
When a young woman from San Francisco who is participating as part of the “UN_goals” community writes a message, that message, if it receives high enough ratings from the “UN_goals” participants, will be selected as the Voice of Women, or the Voice of Youth, or the Voice of Young Women, or the Voice of Humanity for UN_goals at every level from San Francisco up to Planet Earth. If it is selected, then it is emailed to all participants of that Voice for UN_goals. If it receives high ratings from youth of all communities everywhere, it may go out as the global Voice of Youth. And if it receives high ratings overall, it may go out as the global Voice of Humanity-as-one.
The six voices of humanity are a key outcome of the VoH software. They will create the global consciousness that is the sine qua non of the transition to a sustainable civilization. At the global level, messages from these six voices will be extremely likeable in the facebook sense but more than that, they will be important because so many people from all over the world will read them. Because love, wit and spirit are what everyone appreciates, we can expect the six voices of humanity to be consistently kind, intelligent and upbeat. Narrow minded and hateful messages will always draw a large negative vote from one segment or another and so can never be selected to represent humanity as a whole. The ever wise and gentle humor of the voices of humanity will redefine the “other”. We can even hope to deliver a salutary shock as the participants realize one by one that the human race is on their side.
In particular, the breakout of the genders into the Voice of Women and the Voice of Men will provide the energy to build the network locally, nationally and globally. The Women’s Movement has that energy and because it already transcends the nations and religions, there is no contradiction between its goals and the purpose of the software, which is to build human unity around a global consciousness. More than that, the Women’s Movement stands to gain hugely as civil society adopts the software because the equality of the genders is built in. The idea of a conversation between the voices of humanity suggests itself with the women and the men playing a leading and equal role in the development of directions for civilization, locally, nationally and globally.
As the VoH network grows, unified voices for the nations and religions will develop. Dare we imagine a voice of America and of Russia, India and Pakistan, Israel and Palestine? A voice of Islam and of Christianity? It might seem a foolish project, but when we realize that the nations and religions are being unified and strengthened within the context of a unified humanity, then the true genius of the Voices of Humanity project becomes apparent. This is how we motivate the nations and religions to be willing partners in the unification of humanity.
Consider the hardliners’ dilemma when deciding whether to participate in a Voices of Humanity discussion. If no, then they lose all influence within the discussion. If yes, then they are legitimizing the notion that we have a common humanity. At first, the hardliner hawks will shun the VoH discussions, and that will create a safe environment for the doves to get things started. Then, as the process takes off, the persuadable moderates will join in and by “trying on” the global perspective, learn to like it. This is a simplification, to be sure. Hardliners are not a breed apart. Rather, we are all hardliners/hawks to one degree or another. The idea still holds that the hardliner within each of us will be either integrated or marginalized.
Look at the situation again, this time from the viewpoint of the compassionate or liberal wing of a group that also has a hawkish side to it. Say you are a liberal young Muslim in Saudi Arabia, well you can offer your hardline friends the wonderful opportunity of bringing the Ummah together again so that Islam will be unified and achieve its greatest possible influence in the world. Or in America, Occupy Wall Street can say to its Tea Party friends, “You are the 99 percent, too. Let’s see if we don’t agree more than we disagree. Together America can do anything!” It’s not that worrisome — the hardliners cannot take over the collective voice of their own nation or religion, much less that of humanity, and by participating, they will be co-opted as they learn that the voice of humanity is very congenial and always worth listening to.
The toughest situation is where there is active conflict. Most people cannot be under attack and at the same time recognize the humanity of the enemy. Fortunately we live in a world where our sense of humanity is becoming stronger overall, so the hardy souls, those who by spiritual practice or just because they were born that way can maintain their higher faculties under long term stress, will be looking for ways to bridge the divide in each local conflict. InterMix can make it happen without requiring the participants to be traitors to their own side. Within the VoH framework, the pressure of fear and hate is reduced, and that will bring in more people from both sides of the conflict until it dawns on the majority that they could do better than to keep fighting. See also this earlier model of “collective dialog” between two inimical groups for more insight into how InterMix might help in conflict situations.
On the more technological side, the VoH software will underpin civil society coordination, fostering unity of purpose at every level from local to global. To bring together the women’s groups and youth groups and NGOs and interfaith groups and sustainability groups and peace groups and so forth we have to overcome the jealousy problem. More than one network is aiming to become the umbrella of umbrellas. Voices of Humanity Software solves the jealousy problem in three ways. First, it does not belong to anyone. InterMix is free open-source software. Its development will be in the hands of the very network that it creates, where everyone has a voice and a stake. Second, InterMix will eventually be peer-to-peer, meaning each organization can run its own instance on its own web server (with all the instances hooking up over the web). Therefore, no one will own the VoH network, either. Third, and critically, InterMix will implements a bottom-up set of sub-networks where each community and network finds its own position, a comfortable spot that makes sense to the participants. No one tells a community where to position itself.
Because the VoH software will be peer-to-peer, another huge hurdle to the cooperation of existing groups and networks is resolved. Organizations will never release the email addresses of their members and supporters, but if they are running their own instance of InterMix on their own web-server, then they can keep emails confidential while adding their entire membership to the global mix.
Finally, there is a powerful fundraising angle to the Voices of Humanity project. While electing a message from the grass roots to represent humanity is all to the good, the fact is that it is not that easy to build participation. Things global seem so remote to people and they don’t see a payoff. To incentivize them, new grant and donor money can be funneled through the participants to the organization of their choice, say five dollars if they write a message that lands in the top 5% and a dime for each vote they cast, something on that order. To be clear, this is money not for the participants themselves, but for the civil society organization of their choice.
See the full fundraising article for details, but in short, the notion is to create a virtuous cycle where organizations want their members to participate, so those members can steer donations to the organization, and the enthusiasm of the participants in turn raises more money than ever from the memberships under the heading “Make your Gift Work Twice!” – once to incentivize the Voices of Humanity participation and then again when the money ends up with the civil society organization.
So that’s it. The key is that the world think of itself as one. Let’s make it happen!
(As of November 2016, InterMix has launched. The important peer-to-peer capability looks to be a year and a half away at earliest.)
Last changed November 26, 2016.
Page maintained by Roger Eaton