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The Hawking Challenge

The biggest challenge of all is ignoring the evidence we have before us about the future of the planet if we fail to act. I believe this is Professor Stephen Hawking's final challenge to us.

Professor Stephen Hawking predicted that humanity has 100 years in which to leave Earth and colonise another planet in our galaxy. Otherwise, we will join so many other species of life and become extinct. He made this prediction just before he died on 14 March 2017 reducing by 90% his previous prediction of 1,000 more years of human existence on Earth.

Whether we choose to believe Hawking or not, his predication poses a great question: what is our time to extinction? Is it the 4 generations of This Century? Or, the 40 generations of This Millennium? 

Will time prove Professor Hawking right? Or, will humanity change to prove Professor Hawking wrong? 

These questions trouble me and many others. With deference to the scientific approach, we must seek to disprove his hypothesis. Not prove it. 

Who’s proving his point?

There’s a lot of people supporting political parties around the world who wish to return to the ways of last century. It is my fear these will prevail to the brink of extinction, seeking data that will support Hawking’s thesis. These are the people who fail to understand the evolutionary nature of the scientific approach for there are few absolutes.

Who doesn’t know but hopes he’s wrong?

There’s also a lot of people who are agnostic or anxious, distrusting politicians and feeling unable to engage with the issues, yet wanting to assure the survival of the planet and the life upon it. There’s a ground swell of action arising across the planet, particularly in the young and the millennial generation. These are the emerging leaders of our time.

Who’s not certain but is working to make it wrong?

The onus of engagement to lead the anxious and agnostic must lie with the third group of people. Those who are taking a scientific approach. The traditional scientific approach that works from theory to practice; and the experimental approach that keeps thinking and practice close together.

They progress by looking for the patterns in the frameworks of ideas, in the design of methodologies to have impact on areas of global concern. Their success will find the evidence and change the ways of the past to disprove Hawking’s hypothesis. 

Hawking’s last throw of the dice

I see this as Hawking’s last challenge to the world. The eminent scientist in him is daring us to prove him wrong and, I fully believe, he’d be delighted if we did so. 

The final “Hawking Challenge” is perhaps his greatest contribution to the human species (beyond his eminent contribution to physics). His challenge amounts to changing the ways we think and then act in full view of the evidence. And that is one of the grandest challenges we face. 

What’s the problem?

No matter the topic, we have a habit of ignoring evidence. For example, in Australia:

  • Why do many politicians fail to lead on the global issue of climate change that threatens the sanctuary supporting human life on Earth, despite the evidence? 
  • Why do education systems constrain teachers more than amplify them, thus systemically fail to prepare students for our exponential world?  
  • When chronic illness accounts for 83% of premature death and 66% of the hospital burden, why does it attract only 1.34% of health funding? All the evidence points to the fact that those nations that invest in health before wealth, end up being wealthier nations. 

These challenges all carry the hallmarks of the “Hawking Challenge” – there is a crying need to change the ways we think and act. 

The Insanity Paradox

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success 

We risk insanity in finding and leveraging our collective genius to fix the global challenges. 

What will we teach our children? 

I’m NOT keen to see my grandson end his days as humanity goes extinct, nor those of our future generations. Nor, I imagine, are any of us. So, we need to get around the politics. 

It’s time to teach our children how we can learn from everyone – themselves included.

We must do this by showing them the way to success, not telling them.

Call to action

We need a ‘coming together’ to be more informed in an holistic way. A ‘coming together’ to influence in numbers that politicians cannot ignore. And, to act where others fail. 

A ‘coming together’ that doesn’t wait to see if Hawking was right or wrong but assembles evidence in patterns, data and stories that as an assembled whole will disprove Hawking’s hypothesis – his final challenge. 

Not one of us can do this alone. Together, we can do it. And, we can do it in This Century. Hence, the name of this blog series. 

This Century is our time for ordinary people to contribute to the challenge. Let’s use it to shape a vital conversation. 

This Century will explore the thinking we need to shift paradigms about value, viability and leadership. 

This Century will help build the conviction we need in our leadership. And, I trust… 

This Century will influence action to bring others along with ideas that makes the shift compelling. 

Will you join me? 

If you need further inspiration

I recommend your reading “Rise Up” by Matt Church. This was the final kick for me to start my personal quest to become fully self-expressed about addressing the global challenges. Matt’s Talking Point is at once a piece on vulnerability, love and inspiration for humans to rise up in a leadership stand for humanity. 

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