Build Back Better, Human

GP Acharya

December 24, 2021


Build Back Better, Human

Some powerful countries have massively invested in defense, intelligence and infrastructure- both physical and digital- in recent years.

Despite their abundance of resources, capabilities and gamut of intelligence, they have been ever witnessing a greater threat to peace, humanity and security- physical, digital and psychological.

Amid the changing dynamics of global geopolitics and technological advancement, various transnational issues- terrorism, war, crimes, climate change, financial crisis, energy and food security, nuclear and Artificial Intelligence (AI) threats, cyber security, poverty and pandemics- are creating huge havoc around the world, which has made a direct impact on every individual, family, society and nation.

These transnational cum unconventional issues are dominating the security scenes in many nation-states, particularly in the Post-Cold War era.

The realist thinkers like Thucydides, Niccolo Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes and Hans Morgenthau among others advocated that ‘Hard Power’ is the only means of enhancing national security.

The Realists and Neo-Realists school of thoughts were constricted within a narrow periphery of traditional security approach, while the cognizance of Soft Security issues such as the issues related to interests, passion, knowledge, health and well-being of citizens and their freedom from ‘fear’ and ‘want’ was not obligated.

Health and wellbeing are the major concern of many nation-states today while building better humans have been a need of time for a country like Nepal. 

Cultivating Inner Intelligence

We, humans, have been so successful today that our fingertips can control nearly every action. Beginning from the steam engine technology in the First Industrial Revolution (1IR) to the linking of the physical, digital and biological spheres through Nano-Technology and AI in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR); we’ve been so successful in technological innovations that nearly nothing remained impossible, today.

We have already engineered an artificial human through the applications of AI. We’ve, further, been successful enough to inject human emotions into that humanoid machine, which has already surpassed human intelligence. 

Along with the radical innovations, discoveries and inventions; human needs, aims and desires have also been amplified.

The fundamental knowledge of managing one’s own ‘mind’ and ‘emotions’ needs to be taught in every institution including academic, political and government that would be a perceptive investment for the generations to come.

The mode of technological communication has changed from ‘signal fires’ to ‘telegraphy’ to ‘radio link’ to ‘radar’, while the system of communications and technology has transformed from TV, PCs, e-mails to sophisticated devices such as smartphones and social media including Facebook (Meta- Metaverse), Instagram and YouTube among others.

Internet technology has enriched information access and enhanced human thinking. Digital technology has been making human life much easier and faster, while a cell phone is handling almost all of the activities including monetary transactions.

The advancement of technology and social media certainly have changed people’s percepts, thought, actions, lifestyle, feelings and behavior. 

On the flip side, many people are frustrated with the faster pace of change in their life. Digital automation- that is functioning much effectively- is replacing jobs (robots are massively deployed in supply chains); smartphones are turning people into zombies, and social media is gradually dominating people’s minds and lives.

Social media and surveillance devices are dictating every personal space of people, which is posing a grave threat to their personal sovereign dignity.

Meanwhile, many people are not comfortable in adapting to the changes and making balance with them. Balancing thought, mind, life, relations, career and wellbeing have been a new challenge for many.

The higher the human develops intelligent machines, the more they are facing crises to their own emotional intelligence and witnessing a bigger threat to peace, mindfulness and wellness. Subsequently, they have not been able enough to cultivate their own inner intelligence. 

Amid the ongoing Corona crisis, hundreds of millions of people are suffering from Mental and Emotional Health crises globally, while they are not well aware of “How to Live a Life?”

According to WHO, more than 400 million people are suffering from emotional and mental health crises worldwide, while more than 800,000 people commit suicide each year (one person commits suicide every 40 seconds). One of the reasons for this is weakened ‘mental health infrastructure’.

More than 300 million people would likely suffer from depression by 2030 and suicide would be the second leading cause of death among young people by then, predicts World Economic Forum.

The present time has been most terrifying in the modern history of human existence, while more than 5 million people lost their life due to COVD-19 worldwide (John Hopkins University). Nepal has been severely affected by the second wave of the Corona Virus, while thousands of people lost their life.

The third wave has just come, and the world is again terrified. Those who are living have been witnessing greater disruption in every aspect of life including economic, social, personal, psychological and emotional.

According to National Mental Health Survey-2019, nearly 2.2 million people in the age group 16-40 suffer from some form of mental health in Nepal, while more than 7000 people end themselves annually.

This figure is expected to multiply following the job loss and financial crisis caused by the pandemic and the resulting lockdowns. The political, societal and familial chaos have also fueled mental health problems to many. 

The incivility in workplaces and academic institutions is equally fostering a huge gap in human to human connection and eroding mental and emotional health, which is subsequently challenging the ‘present vitality’ and ‘future prosperity of every society, writes Christine Porath in “Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace”.

The author of this article witnessed uncivil treatment from some of the teachers during his University life, while he faced abusing (verbal) behavior from some of the bosses during his executive tenure in academia, both made him stressed for a long.

There are several other instances that many mentors or bosses abuse- verbally, physically, emotionally and sexually- their novices or subordinates in academic institutions, which is largely disrupting energy and enthusiasm and affecting the attention and brain in many creative minds.

While some political leaders are using very disgracing and abusing words against their opponents, which reflects a pitying sense of mental and emotional intelligence. Now, imagine, what essence of culture or tradition we are fostering in the young minds in the generations to come? 

To meet the agenda of Sustainable Development Goals 2030, the health and wellbeing of every individual need to be considered with optimal priority, which would subsequently contribute to societal, economic and national wellbeing.

Nepal’s national security depends upon the diversity of national power capability and prominence of soft potentials, which must be viewed through a ‘strategic-soft lenses’.

Various studies claim that there is a direct causal link between workplaces and institutions’ wellbeing and productivity, while the personal wellbeing of every individual can induce significant differences in national productivity.

The health and wellbeing of future generations, families, society and nations depend upon the well-being of the existing one.

Since the various emerging issues are taking a psychological and mental toll on a large section of youths, the concerned authority must take mental and emotional health literacy as part of the academic curriculum.

The fundamental knowledge of managing one’s own ‘mind’ and ‘emotions’ needs to be taught in every institution including academic, political and government that would be a perceptive investment for the generations to come. This new dimension will certainly help boost up the quality of one’s life as well as the performance of the institutions. 

The prominence of Soft Potentials

The health, wellbeing, state of mind, pursuit of happiness, and sense of integrity of every national directly reflect the national wellbeing.

The cultured, humanistic, compassionate, intelligent, educated and dynamic population is an ‘element of national power’ which can uphold and promote Nepal’s national interest.

Through humanism, civility, culture and internal values, Nepal can win the hearts, minds and spirits of tens of millions of people around the globe that can help achieve some of Nepal’s foreign policy goals. 

Nepal’s national security depends upon the diversity of national power capability and prominence of soft potentials, which must be viewed through a ‘strategic-soft lenses’.

Considering the achievable soft potentials, Nepal has to focus on preparing ‘Great Human Being’, ‘Compassionate Future Generations’, and ‘World Class Citizens’ with an emphasis on the notion of ‘Build Back Better, Human’ that would ultimately result in a huge ‘Soft Power’ for Nepal.

(GP Acharya is a researcher, analyst, and emotional intelligence, mindfulness and wellness practitioner cum coach)