Salmom Upstream, LLC

Developing and implementing real-world community solutions.

Going All In

What if you had an idea that might lead to world peace? How far would you go?


What if you had an idea that might lead to world peace? How far would you go? How much would it be worth? With any endeavor, you weigh the risks and benefits, factoring in the chance of success and the cost of failure. And world peace is right up there with exceeding the speed of light. It would be foolish to go all in, because people suck.

A few years back, I changed. I started looking at things differently, and doing things differently. Mostly, it was fear and frustration with a system I have felt driven to try to fix, an arguably impossible task. The odds of success what they are, I have certainly put in more than was wise. I have become a moody, obsessive bore, who alternates between brooding and babbling, but mostly babbling.

And now I think I see the error of my ways. But unfortunately, it's not that I need to stop, it's that I need to change directions. What if the solution has never been about the system that tries to contain our flaws, but is more about empowering our greatest strength?


But, wait! People suck.

Or do they? For sure, some people suck, but not everyone. And throughout history, every human society has been such that the sucky people have had the advantage. Brutality, ruthlessness, conniving, treachery, betrayal; these are effective tools that can be used by a small number of people who suck to ruin the lives of a whole lot people who don't. And then there are people who just suck up resources from non-suckies. For sure, there is a lot of suckitude.

But what would happen if we connected all of those seemingly hapless non-sucky individuals into a collective network of regular people? Would it become an overpowering force of awesome? I will tell you one thing that is fact: no one knows, because it's never been tried.

One reason: up until the last 10 years, it wasn't possible. But now it is. In fact, we are already connected better than we have ever been before, it's just that those connections are somewhat corrupted, primarily in an attempt to monetize the demand. What's amazing is that those connections are now so easy to create, it is possible to build an uncorrupted network where people are free to make connections as they want, no strings attached.

The catch: you can't make money on it. Which is exactly why no one has done it. You would have to do it purely to see what would happen. A test.

How do you test something like this? I suggest we treat the idea just like we might treat a new drug: find a test subject, mix up the elixir, and have them drink it down. And then see what happens.

There are a couple of catches: For one, you have to be allowed to test it. With what we are talking about, there are societies where the controlling government would never allow an uncorrupted network to connect all of the regular people together. That's no way to maintain control. In fact, one of the most important things a government of this type wants to do is control those connections. Which means you need a free country. Wait! We have that here!

Second, it's important that your lab rat has the disease that you are trying to treat. How else would you tell if it works? Sadly, that's not a problem.

Third, you have to have a test subject that is capable of swallowing the pill. If there are forces within the society that would prevent implementation -- laws, culture, lack of resources -- you will not be able to put it together. This is precisely why I am so jacked up about our city changing the taxicab regulations: we may be the only ones on earth capable of drinking the entire vial.

And lastly, you need a willing participant, and I think our little city is ready to try.

What would happen? No one knows. But I think it's fair to say it will only be good. What we don't know is just how good.

And might we measure success? That's easy: we look to see if we can swing the needle the other way. Despite our best efforts, our poverty rate is steadily climbing. If we can turn that around, simply by empowering regular people to be the driving force of our community, the impact could be global. It wouldn't happen overnight, but ultimately, with continued improvements to our new therapy, other communities would progressively adopted this proven treatment.

To me, that looks about as much like world peace as I can imagine, and that is worth a great deal. Will it work? I don't know, but I simply cannot keep myself from going all in.