EA needs Life-Veterans and “Less Smart” people
Healthy communities have all kinds. There is a magic in the plant world when a diversity of plants co-exist. Permaculture has been innovating through realizing how the community of plants help each other by each contributing a different gift to the benefit of the whole. Plants communicate with each other via mushroom like strands underground and work together. Interestingly, they speak French. Just kidding.
I’ve been in a movement that changed the world in a positive way and eventually fell apart, it was very very similar to EA in many ways — a bunch of talented young people trying to do good in the world. We had all the same criticisms people throw at EA and we did listen and learn as much as we had the capacity to. I won’t tell the whole story here, but we didn’t fall apart because of bad things, it was a necessary evolution, but one of the key problems that kept us from surviving was a lack of diversity.
For some reason when I was young, I think it’s because I was smart, I figured out that if older people had already faced all the challenges I face maybe they would be a good source of data and the gritty life wisdom of how to apply the data. So I would go out of my way to befriend them and listen to them. It was mixed results…lots of older people are just bitter, but there were enough that had made it through a life full of thriving and were happy to share it. You just have to find the right one’s.
Most of the world is made up of average people, smart people call them dumb, but they’re really just average. The thing is, if everybody in the room is smart, who is going to see the world as most of the world sees the world? That’s a data poor room.
If we are really smart we’ll make sure to surround ourselves not just with other smart people but with a variety of young and old, different cultures, different life experience levels and some average people. That’s a room rich in data.
Never underestimate the simple wisdom of simple people…and because most of the people in the world are religious, we should have them around too. You just need to find the right one’s…generous and kind and who want everyone to thrive.
Wisdom is learning how to live in reality…when we’re young we are really far from reality…you have a bedroom and a phone and an iPad in a lovely house, all provided for you magically. You have no clue how that all accrued to you. You’re not yet in touch with reality. But as you attend the school of hard knocks year after year, slowly but surely reality drifts in…essentially what happens is that as you are slowly disconnected from your parents and the “magical accrual” fades away, you learn how real life works.
Wise people have had the time it takes to boil it all down to pure essence, filter out the dross and see the pure reality…when you can see it, you can figure out how to negotiate it. It simply takes some years and a person oriented toward thriving rather than increasing bitterness.
If you have a lot of data, what you need more than anything is wisdom to interpret the data and wisdom to creatively imagine real world applications from the data.
You simply cannot be a movement committed to getting more effective at doing good in the world if you do not have some elder wisdom in the room. It’s a glaring deficit. Thank God for Singer, but he’s not around enough.
Especially in this time of post-FTX self examination and reforming, in this time of making efforts concerning the mental health of young people under pressure to save the world—this is the time to round out the community with some village like balance; The young, the old, the strong, the average all making life thrive like plants all mixed up in the jungle.
And artists! My God EA needs artists so freakin’ bad…but that’s a whole other post and I’ll get to it soon.
Here’s the reality; EA hires the cream of the crop. These are people who’ve always been gifted and who’ve flown above the heads of their peers…but because they’re young they still have not had the failures and heartaches that condition the unreality of youth and turn it toward wisdom. One of the biggest blindnesses of being in the elite is to have been handed power but being clueless as to what not having power is like.
The place where you really gain wisdom and get closer to reality is when the power has been taken away and you are subject to suffering and have to walk through it.
EA has been handed tremendous gargantuan levels of power…I’ve been around the Social Benefaction world for 35 years and I’ve never seen a movement so well funded—it is without precedent. It is mind blowing and I’m pretty sure most EA’ers have no idea how huge and amazing it is…Nobody, and I mean nobody in the history of the world has been funded as well as EA.
The result is so completely clear to me…it’s a little bit of tough love and I’ll try to make it clear in these two paragraphs; EA is still a little immature for the level of power it’s been given…it didn’t have enough time to get enough wisdom to handle this level. EA should have been given the money at 35, but instead it got it at 25…and those ten years are a whole world.
Here’s how we can know this assessment is true; If tomorrow a newly minted billionaire were to drop in on MacAskill, Beckstead and Karnovsky and tell them he’s so excited to form a new foundation within EA and really get to work…they would submit that poor F$!&k#*r to body cavity levels of due diligence (talk about “back” ground checking), they would talk to everyone they’d ever even glanced at, there would be community forums to discuss it and agencies hired to investigate…those guys would not allow themselves and EA to go through all that again! And so in contrast, we clearly see what they failed to do from lack of experience the first time…this is normal life.
So EA just hasn’t been mature enough for the power poured in its lap, like a young new monarch coming to power too early. The only solution is to wait many years for the life experience to accrue within the group —or— import it.
Get some veterans in and mix them around all the different EA org’s and get them in the room when discussing important things. Let them be there to help younger people learn how to get a life balance and not be overcome by the guilt of spending a dollar for an ice cream cone that could have gone to saving future humanity or sick children. You’re not the first one’s to struggle with the phenomenon of altruistic guilt. Other’s have gone before, they can help you.
And the reason why poverty, healthcare and animal welfare have to remain equal in the culture and investments of EA is because those altruistic communities generate a lot of life wisdom in their workers who are so close to those who have no power, EA needs them in the mix.
Essentially, what altruism is, is just balancing the power equally.
Get a balanced community with Artists, Oldies and Average people. Health and wisdom will accrue.