Imagination and Genocide
I spent a lot of the summer arguing with my friend, lets call him “Clint,” about whether or not a world without genocide is possible.
Clint believes that genocide on earth is inevitable. He looks back at the long and global history of genocide and concludes that it is a part of human society. He does not believe that a world without genocide is possible (though I’m sure he would like to live in one).
I disagree with Clint. As technology makes us more aware of the world around us, I believe that we will develop the empathy and understanding we need to eliminate genocide. When this happens, it will be a milestone for humanity.
The problem with these types of arguments is that it they are extremely difficult to resolve. Clint and I were making guesses about what is and is not possible in the future. Though many people turn to science or religion to make assumptions about the future, we can’t with any significant confidence “know” what will happen in the future.
However, there is critical distinction between Clint’s and my visions. Though both of us would prefer a world without genocide, Clint cannot actually imagine it is possible.
This is an extremely important difference to understand, not just for ending genocide but also for achieving any goal. Imagination is a critical tool for success. If you can’t imagine something is possible, you can’t begin to achieve it (unless it happens unintentionally).
By failing to imagine, you deprive yourself, and the world, of potentially plausible realities. If you can’t imagine that a world without genocide is possible, then there is no chance that you will be part of the team that creates that world.
The future is largely unknown, so we can’t say for sure what is, and what is not possible. Therefore, the best approach when taking on a new task is to imagine that the outcome you want is possible. Your imagination is within your control. By imagining a positive outcome you are setting yourself up to begin achieving high levels of success and innovation.
The first step towards eliminating genocide on our planet is to imagine that we can do it. If we can’t even imagine this then we are simply setting ourselves up for failure.