Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Last Day of the First Decade of the 21st Century

On this final day of a decade ushered in with unfounded fear of the now forgotten Y2K bug, then eclipsed with the events of 9/11 and the twin wars that unfolded in its wake, and still sputter like the lit fuse on an un-exploded bomb. This decade compared to others in the 20th century turned out to be better than most. Three billion people world-wide began to reap the rewards of free markets and for the first time in history join the ranks of a growing middle-class. The wars, however tragic for those who lost loved ones, were less intense than the killing fields of those found in any decade of the 1900's.

As we wait today, to usher in 2010 and the next decade of our future, I will share a few links that stood out as a measure of our success as a people. Then one final thought about those who have paid the price of trying to confront an evil that if not checked, desires to return the world to feudal times, where totalitarianism and fundamentalism cloaked in the guise of religion threatens all those who seek a better future for their children.

One blog that I visit on a daily basis has consistently shown itself to on the cutting edge of observations that are balanced and reveal the innovative and resilient nature of free and inquiring people. Steve DeAngelis, founder of Enterra Solution's blog Enterprise Resilience Blog has shown itself to be the gold standard of positive observations of the human condition in the 21st century. Here are a few posts that reflect the positive developments of the past decade and hope for the future. I will let Steve's words introduce this first post.

For all of the usual reasons, this is my favorite time of the year. One naturally begins thinking more about family, blessings, and giving to others. But I also like this time of year because the New York Times publishes its "Year in Ideas" section that highlights "noteworthy notions of [the current year] — the twigs and sticks and shiny paper scraps of human ingenuity, which, when collected and woven together, form a sort of cognitive shelter, in which the curious mind can incubate, hatch and feather"
Read more:
New York Times Year in Ideas

Steve's next post is more about innovation and how new ideas have catapulted our connected world further ahead than ever before.

In a couple of recent posts (Promoting Innovation and Entrepreneurship and The New York Times' Year in Ideas), I've focused on end of the year recognition for innovative ideas and companies. The Economist has also published its list of winning innovators for 2009 ["And the winners were...," 12 December 2009 print issue]. The article notes that The Economist "was established in 1843 to take part in 'a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress'. One of the chief ways in which intelligence presses forward is through innovation, which is now recognised as one of the most important contributors to economic growth. Innovation, in turn, depends on the creative individuals who dream up new ideas and turn them into reality." The magazine presents Innovation Awards in eight categories: bioscience, computing and telecommunications, energy and the environment, social and economic innovation, business-process innovation, consumer products, a flexible “no boundaries” category, and the corporate use of innovation. This year's winners include some innovators who have been mentioned before in my blogs. The list of winners this year is:

Read more:
More Prizes for Innovation

Finally, Steve looks back at the past decade and used two counter-points of view to illustrate a realistic look back that still bodes hope for a better future.

Nobel Laureate, economics professor, and New York Times' op-ed columnist Paul Krugman suggests that we label the past decade "The Big Zero."
Has the world really stopped progressing in any meaningful way? In a very thoughtful essay on progress, The Economist asks, "Why is the modern view of progress so impoverished?"

Steve's commentary on the excerpts from the Ecomomist and the supporting essay 'It’s Getting Better All the Time', by the late Julian Simon and Stephen Moore, provides a measure of balance and sets the stage for hope that humans can still make a difference.

Humans have always known that there is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. One can have great knowledge without being wise. Wisdom is the correct use of knowledge....
Despite the view of pessimists, the worst predictions of past and present fear-mongers have not come to pass. For example, with exceptions of countries like Iran and North Korea, neither "Orwell’s nor Huxley’s nightmares have come to life."
I'm idealistic enough to believe that men and women of good will can make a difference in the world. Evil will always live as a companion to good, but that fact need not impede progress altogether. As the New Year and new decade begin, let's work to ensure that it is not another Big Zero.
Read the whole post:
A Look at Progress

Finally, As the sun sets on this decade, Michael Yon posted this photo essay that speaks volumes about human spirit.

On this small base surrounded by a mixture of enemy and friendly territory, a memorial has been erected just next to the Chapel. Inside the tepee are 21 photos of 21 soldiers killed during the first months of a year-long tour of duty

Inside the tepee are the 21 photos, and a Bible. The book is opened to Psalm 31.

Read more:
Into Thine Hand I Commit My Spirit

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