In this exciting and exceedingly well-written book, Gilbert E. Mulley illuminates how a host of problems humankind faces today are connected and proposes a credible (if not imminent) framework to address them.
Mulley, a retired writer-editor, succinctly describes sources of problems like diminishing natural resources, pollution, poverty and racism. While most of his examples come from U.S. politics, he highlights – without villainizing – the role democracy and capitalism play worldwide in these man-made problems.
Mulley says the problems exist because humans love to differentiate – black from white, Christians from Jews, elites from the rest of us – when we should focus on our commonalities and act in our shared interests, starting with preserving the planet.
The Human Paradox is, thus, that we are all essentially the same yet also unique and all-too-eager to celebrate subtly different traits with others like us. Mulley, with a light touch and absence of rancor, acknowledges humans would be pretty boring without differentiation.
What can bring us together? Mulley argues sensibly and persuasively that it’s our shared struggle to balance living within “tri-worlds” simultaneously: the natural, human-made, and ethereal “me” worlds. This should bond humankind, he writes, more than differentiation divides us.
Idealistically, Mulley says individuals hold the key to this necessary shift. They have the capacity to adopt a balanced, tri-world perspective, then elect leaders accordingly. Realistically, he concedes that this long-shot transition to something like “sustainable capitalism” or “profitable socialism” will probably take centuries.
Mulley’s writing feels fresh, never polemical or preachy. In just the right doses, he cites familiar Big Thinkers like Jared Diamond and introduces the lesser-known, like economist Tim Jackson. Only seldom does Mulley’s writing hit a false note, as when he generalizes about criminals’ mindsets and suggests that poor people “often lead loveless lives.”
The moment to transition away from species self-destruction is at hand, Mulley states with such clarity and ease that readers will finish this remarkable tome better informed, hopeful, and maybe even inspired.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.