This is the first book i have read by this author (Yual Noah Harari). I have not read Sapiens and Homo deus by same author yet. But i think, it did not matter.
We get in to this world as a naive child. Start to learn very slowly, start to see through our parents eyes. Start learning from our immediate family, neighbors. As we get in to school, our learning medium expands through teachers, friends, books and different instances we have in our life. While History, Geography, Evolution are part of our subjects at the early years itself, we study it independently as subjects. Darwin, French revolution, Nile river are not new to us. These subjects are interwoven together to gives us glimpse of the world we are in. Most often, that essence is missed out. Education system can be blamed at. But we are who we are now with so much of information, unsure which one aids us with what. And what is for what?
Humans evolved from hunter gatherer to today, over thousands of years. What our ancestor did 2000 years back do no matter to us today in our life. What was their life like, who were their neighbors, how was their community life, what was their life span, did they have a religion, what was their perception of world. All these does not matter to live today, at a very high level. To be a puppet of our society, culture, technology and so many influential powers from leaders to religion, there is no need to know ‘who we are’ as humans. After all, i am one among the billions alive today and billions existed before.
Author says ‘In a world deluged by irrelevant information, clarity is power’. To be not a puppet is the first step that one is taking for oneself. Should one take this step is something very subjective. To come ‘out of control’ of anything and everything we are in to, it takes years and years. I can only talk for myself. It takes years to realize that i can think ; i can decide. It takes years to shed the protective shell of parents. It takes years to get to understand the religion and its role in human evolution. It takes years to understand how religion or political system influence our behavior; It takes years to understand how other religions and other political system are influencing at global level ; in turn how that affects me. Not to mention the technological evolution and its possibilities. I can make effort to understand it and try getting clarity in each aspect of life.
Getting the clarity is not easy. Day in day out, information and choices overload is what happening. What i think is that decisions are made at free will; but in reality i am choosing from the options provided by the powerful (it could be AI, corporates, religion, societal norms, …). How do i get clarity in this world even if i want? It seems beyond my limit of understanding.
Author beautifully closes the book by giving the answer. It is not outside, i have to look for clarity or meaning. It is inside that has to be focused. It is all with the mind (not brain)! I can set life’s meaning by taking up something i play a role in. To have clarity and fulfill the meaning, i need to be aware of my mind. Have a control over it!
Meditation is one means to achieve it.
This is one of the most important books i have read. Author groups the 21 lessons under technological/political challenge, Despair & hope, Truth, Resilience. As a historian, author brilliantly gives global picture of work, community, civilization, nationalism, religion, immigration, etc… All these together gives a better picture of what can be expected from 21st century.