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Humankind the superior species?


Are we really the superior species?

I was contemplating whether to write about a controversial subject like this, on my first blogpost ever. And yet here it is!

Since the beginning of June I’m following a course called “The Art of Communication”, it equipped me with having more knowledge and understanding how to perform when talking to an audience. It also puts you right outside of your comfortzone which is exactly how I want it.

One of the speeches I had to perform was about building bridges, while some of you know me quite well. I’ll eloborate a bit more on that statement. I am a civil engineer who has been involved in projects about renovating or building bridges. Except the statement is not about civil engineer projects, it’s about building bridges between us, people. It’s about connecting to eachother in our (close) environment while learning and experiencing eachother.

My Harvard experience is not just about studying every book I had to buy, sit in the amazing Widener Hall library with a freshley brewed cup of coffee from Starbucks, no. It’s about meeting new people, learn from different cultures and be genuinely interested in every story people told me so far.

Like I mentioned earlier, my speech was about “building bridges” in a figurative manner. It’s easier to destroy connections than to build one up. The popular voice wins us over sometimes like Donald Trump is doing with the Islam or refugees in general right here in the United States, or Geert Wilders in my own home country, the Netherlands.

Trump plans to exclude whole religions from entering the United States, and has said “Ban all Muslims from the States!” just because there are a few rotten apples in the basket. Nevertheless,  this kind of statements also happens in the Netherlands. People like to hear simple sentences, rather than factual data that support counterexamples. The Dutch example is politician, Geert Wilders, one of his statements being; “The country needs no more Muslims; the streets are already overflowing with them”. His party, which is considered to be extreme right, has a good chance of gaining a substantial showing in the parliament, perhaps even winning the election in 2017. How do people like Trump and Wilders can gain so many voters?

System 1 thinking goes back to the root of our thinking capabilities and shuts out logic and rational thinking. The immigrant problem is out there even close to the city where I live, which causes frustration since a small group of immigrants are stealing or breaking an entry. This ruins it for the other, (way larger!), part of the immigrants group stationed there.

Trump and Wilders definitely have some similarities. They use the less logical System 1 thinking to win voters for their party. Even people like Trump and Wilders can build bridges, so why don’t they do it?

I’m not sure about the economic and healthcare plans of Trump and Wilders, it’s easy to see that the whole campaign is build solely on the emotional state of the voters.

The Netherlands and the United States have been one of the countries to make the first steps of building bridges between countries, cultures  and religions. Unfortunately, a handful of politicians,  are wrecking bridges between cultures and people the last few years.

Politicians should take time to think and contemplate about whether this statement or perspective contributes to the state in a positive way. Instead of overhauling logic and clear thinking and going back to the prehistoric ages, politicians thrive on our System 1 thinking which in certain cases belongs in museums. Don’t you think so?

Whether people agree with me or not. I’m also trying to put myself out of my comfortzone by sharing ideas and personal opinions. The past weeks I have seen many new cultures and got to know more about them, which makes me even more sure I should write this blog. It’s a beautiful aspect of residing here in and around Harvard, of which I am grateful to be a part of.

                                “Audere Est Facere”

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