What do I feel most optimistic about right now?
I am optimistic about the long term.
One thing that is very hard to do when the short term is so traumatic, is to think long term. We all need to look at the big picture and realize that the crisis is short term. It is a setback to the movement of providing access to possibility and wealth for more and more people. In MC24, I published the work of Max Roser of "Our World in Data." He did a beautiful project that shows the transformation of the world over the last two hundred years in six important metrics, including extreme poverty, literacy, child mortality, etc. What is truly striking is that in all of these measures we have produced a "positive inversion." Two hundred years ago only 6% of the population DID NOT live in extreme poverty. Only six out of one hundred were not dirt poor. Today, ten out of one hundred still live in extreme poverty. Most importantly the graph shows that number moving inexorably down.
So, the Pandemic is a short term, tragic setback. We will overcome this, and continue on our collective work to make the world a better place for more and more people.
I am optimistic about our collective potential.
At this moment, there are over a hundred design teams working around the clock to create a vaccine or a treatment that will solve the problem of Covid19. Think about the collective resources that have been mobilized to confront this challenge. Think about the knowledge, brain power, investment, expertise and creativity that are being gathered, connected, supported and shared in our collective effort. When we look back at the history of pandemics, nothing even remotely like this has ever happened. The MC24 Principle, "Design for the Power Double Double," outlines the radical potential that emerges when we educate people everywhere and provide access to the tools to change the world. The race for the vaccine demonstrates the Power Double Double — the potential that we have to accelerate innovation, save lives and make the world a better place.
I am optimistic about one of the few gifts of the pandemic.
This disease has visited horror on daily life in our towns and cities, on our economies, and on our friends, families and loved ones. For many people, the uncertainty, financial stress and direct impact of the disease has been devastating. One of the few gifts of this time has been the discovery that things can change. Things that we thought were permanent are suddenly stopped. Things that we thought would never change, could not be changed, are now of necessity, changed. We see a momentary glimpse into a different world.
As difficult as this time has been, I have had dinner every night for the past several months with my wife and our daughters. That hasn't happened in decades. While we are all doing our best to find our way through the lockdown and the painful loss of time with friends and extended family, we have discovered a priceless treasure, the idea that we can change the world and design the life that we want to live.
Bruce Mau is the Co-Founder of the Massive Change Network and author of MC24, out now from Phaidon