This Could Be Our Future: A book review by Bob Morris

This Could Be Our Future: A Manifesto for a More Generous World
Yancey Strickler
Viking/An imprint of Penguin Random House (2019)

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” African proverb

First of all, it helps to understand the core principles of Bentoism (BEyond Near-Term Ogranization), a strategy that could help people decide which of four different choices they should pick in any given scenario. The choices include self-focus, (Now Me), the people around us (Now Us), the person you want to be in the future (Future Me), and the world in which your children will live (Future Us). The methodology, Yancey Strickler believes, can move people away from a money-focused scenario toward a system based on security, pleasure, autonomy, knowledge, and purpose.

Strickler: “Bentoism is a framework that helps us better see our values and rational self-interest. While the world today is focused on the needs of Now Me, Bentoism says there are other perspectives that must be balanced: Now Us, Future Me, and Future Us.”

One of my own concerns is widespread Zero Sum thinking.  According to this mindset, to extend the metaphors, Now Me and Now Us as well as Future Me and Future Us are competitors. There can be no consensus or balance. All or nothing. Period. That’s it. End of discussion.

As African proverb wisely suggests, Now Me may have short-term advantages but forfeits the longer-term advantages that Future Us offers. If I understand Strickler’s point-of-view (and I may not), the best decisions are based on an analysis of various options and contingencies.

For example, there are situations in which to run faster to catch up with Group A and then remain in temporary alignment with its speed for a while before sprinting ahead to Group B that is moving faster than A. Group C awaits as do Groups X, Y, and Z.

Strickler points out that each of the four dimensions — Now Me, Now Us, Future Me, and Future Us — “is a space of rational self-interest. Our choices don’t just affect us right now, they affect our future selves too. And our responsibilities and influences aren’t limited to ourselves., they affect the people around us, and vice versa. Our choices affect the world that the next generation will inherit.”

I commend Yancey Strickler on his provision of a very special Appendix: “This section is the liner notes I wish every book I’ve loved. It includes a deeper look at the philosophical roots of Bentoism, a suggested reading list, expanded thoughts on the thirty-year theory of change, and more.”

This really is a manifesto “for a more generous world.” It may even be a manifesto for the survival of the human race.

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