Humanity is Beautiful

Kindling Executive Director Peter Schulte’s upcoming book “Humanity is Beautiful” examines humanity’s limiting stories about itself; unearths a new, more helpful story. Here Kindling patrons can read early excerpts and drafts.

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Our fuel to drive change

Our story of outrage and despair at its core is the belief that we can only ever overcome our deep challenges by truly acknowledging and atoning for our deeply unwise, destructive, pathetic nature.

Old fashioned clock

Doomsday Clock

Many of us had already seen the illusions and facades of The Story of Progress. In the face of the false promises of capitalism, we were forced to question whether the advances of modernity truly were the real progress we made them out to be. But now we visibly witness the world seemingly crumbling before our eyes.

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Collateralized Debt Obligation

Where Exxon Valdez demonstrated the false “Progress” of our energy systems, the 2008 financial crisis demonstrated the false “Progress” of our financial systems.

Dead birds covered in oil

Exxon Valdez

For those in the early-to-mid 20th Century, these fossil fuels must have appeared a gift from God. Just below our feet was a seemingly endless supply of cheap, efficient energy which we could use to power our whole lives and economies. In 1989, that rosy outlook changed forever.

Donald Draper

Donald Draper

In Mad Men, everyone does their best to project a Leave It To Beaver life to those around them. And yet, on the inside, they live a much more nuanced, more subversive, more sorrowful life. They all seem to recognize that life is not so clean or easy as they had been told. 

Soldiers from World War I

The Trenches

In 1910, “Progress” was thriving seemingly in every facet of life and every corner of the “civilized” world. But in 1914, this sense of progress all came crashing down.

Toilet

The Scientific and Industrial Revolutions

Metaphorically and quite literally, humanity rose up from its former squalor. The “Dark Ages” were no longer. Every year brought clear and obvious steps toward “modernity” and away from our lowly past. Every year, humanity ascended to new heights.

Baruch de Spinoza

The Enlightenment

De Witt’s lynching, perhaps more than any other single event, possessed Spinoza to write what are now considered some of the seminal texts in modern thought. What Spinoza could not have known, was that he – along with Hume, Kant, Leibniz, Rousseau, Voltaire, and many others – were also writing among the first chapters of The Story of Progress.

Skull surrounded by darkness

The Dark Ages

After the fall of the Roman Empire in the Fifth Century C.E., the Western world fell into what many Enlightenment-era historians and philosophers – and many people to this day – pejoratively referred to as the “Dark Ages.”

Skyscrapers

The Story of Progress

The Story of Progress tells of humans’ (or the West’s) rise from the savagery of our origins to modern society’s civility, refinement, and goodness. It is the story of our inevitable ascent from barbarism to civilization.

Change milestones from around the world

Good news for climate, justice, democracy, and more