Thanks to the internet, we no longer need institutions to spread the principles behind a good life. Any important message can and will spread faster now than any institution in the past ever could. What we need is to accelerate a localized birth and growth of the systems that make it easier to live according to the principles behind a good life.
Traditionally, certain institutions (e.g: religion, state) “patented” and centralized those systems, claiming to have “the truth.” But the truths of life are now out there for the taking. No institution, old or new, has the monopoly on the principles of a good life anymore. However, these institutions grew because their systems were easy to copy. They grew the same way Starbucks or McDonald’s grew: by becoming a franchise. This made their impact massive but sub-optimal because their leaders have always been susceptible to the usual human limitations: corruption, self-interest, fear, simplifying the complex, etc. No global institution is going to give each member all they need, because to lead such an institution their leaders need to have a certain level of arrogance that makes them think they are immune to those common human limitations. They believe that they can multiply a top-down design of putting people through a simplified process of systems/rituals (a franchise couldn’t work if it was too hard to replicate), and produce “good people.”
As long as people buy into franchises to “teach them how to live”, they will be somewhat disappointed. In some cases, they will even be hurt (e.g.: cults). Because the real interest of an institution with a franchise model is to scale, not to tailor to each individual’s needs.
This is not to say these massive institutions have not done good. On the contrary. But I am saying that today’s technology finally is allowing us to tailor better the systems people can use to adopt the principles behind a good life.
The solution is to do good locally. The gospels, the stories, the methods, the advice… It’s all published, it’s all available. It’s all out there. There’s a reason people buy magic formulas and not broad principles: because principles are free and easily available. People want to believe there’s something they don’t know and someone else has to come to tell them what to do. But this is not the case anymore. What people struggle with is with doing good, not with knowing what good is.
It is upon each of us to do good and be of service with those next to us. To volunteer, to build local communities that are tailored to the culture and needs of those involved, to build necessary things just because they are necessary. If this is broad is because it’s supposed to be. Principles are resilient BECAUSE they are flexible, so they can be applied to each different scenario.
The hope is that, as messages become more and more commoditized, we will finally understand that the real value is not in knowing the message, but in creating independent systems for better living for those around us. Not for the whole world, not trying to scale and conquer, but from the bottom, trying to help one by one those closest to us. The hope is that each individual in their own segment of the world will tailor his help to what his part of the world needs.
Software is great for scaling. Coffee too. But for telling people how to navigate the complexity of life, we can now do better. A bottom-up design is more anti-fragile and less risky.