Get my new weekly sketch in your inbox

Join over 30,000 people learning something new in a moment each Sunday.

The Destiny Instinct illustration: bent over on hands and knees, an individual inspects a line of ants through their magnifying glass. At some point later in time, they return to find an enormous anthill that towers overhead.

The Destiny Instinct

Change of large complex things like people, countries, religions or cultures tends to happen slowly. And because the change is small we might think they’re not changing at all. Our instinct may be that they can’t in fact change because of their innate characteristics. But the destiny instinct misleads us.

Small change adds up to big changes over enough time. And while things may not seem to change in a week or a month or a year, when you look back over decades huge change can happen. Changes in poverty, live expectancy, economies, women’s rights, or attitudes to homosexuality — things that may have seemed at one time that they were hardly changing at all —  have all transformed when we look back over sufficient time. Change that may not have seemed like it was adding up to much is still change.

Read more from the Roslings: Culture, nations and religions are not rocks — they’re always changing.

And, at a time of the year perfect for reflection, here are 4 ways to control our destiny instinct from Gapminder:

  • Keep track of gradual improvements. A small change every year can translate to a huge change over decades.
  • Update your knowledge. Some knowledge goes out of date quickly. Technology, countries, societies, cultures, and religions are constantly changing.
  • Talk to Grandpa. If you want to be reminded of how values have changed, think about your grandparents’ values and how they differ from yours.
  • Collect examples of cultural change. Challenge the idea that today’s culture must also have been yesterday’s, and will also be tomorrow’s.

Also see Stewart Brand’s Pace layers.

You’re welcome to use and share this image and text for non-commercial purposes with attribution. Go wild!
See licence

Buy Me A Coffee