“We Are Not Ants”: New Book Promotes Educated Optimism

“Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise,” wrote Thomas Gray in 1742. In the age of social networking and online media, sometimes it seems there is nothing but bad news and that there is nothing the ordinary citizen can do.

Most people know the old adage that a lack of knowledge results in happiness, but could it be that it is precisely the opposite, that ignorance causes misery?

The book No somos hormigas [es] (We Are Not Ants)  is a response to widespread negativity and a generalised feeling of disempowerment. More than a mere book, it is a complete strategy against depression and passivity. But this is no happy-go-lucky, best-selling, superficial self-help book. The four young authors from Spain, combining backgrounds in economics, journalism, international development, entrepreneurship, marketing and design, introduce the project like

a book against the grain, a guide for educated/informed optimists, an ongoing project at http://nosomoshormigas.org/, a cry for hope against the crisis.

The title is explained like this:

If we were ants, humanity would be a happy species. We have colonised the whole planet, our life expectancy is greater than ever before, and our technical achievements are impressive. Nevertheless, we are aware of the magnitude of the challenges we have yet to face, and of the dangers and injustice that still haunt us. We are a community and what we are doing we are doing it together, we share a common origin and along Planet Earth we share a common future too. A future that is up to us to decide.

The book is divided into three chapters:

"We can prevent and cure diseases more than ever"

Capítulo  1. El mundo va bien.

Los humanos hemos hecho progresos increíbles en muchísimos ámbitos en las últimas décadas: vivimos más, somos capaz de alimentar a más, a educar a más, hemos erradicado muchas enfermedades que antes eran mortales y somos más solidarios.

Chapter 1. The world is doing well.

Human beings have achieved incredible progress in many areas in the last decades: we live more, we are capable of feeding more and educating more people than ever before, we have eradicated many illnesses that used to be mortal and there is more solidarity than before.

No somos hormigas, chapter 2, from the press release

"But our international institutions are still exclusive"

Capítulo 2. Hay cosas que todavía van mal.
Muchos dirán que eso no es suficiente y que los humanos no hemos sido capaces de resolver los principales retos sociales. Es verdad. Pero vamos mejor de lo pensamos y de lo que los pesimistas nos quieren hacer creer.

Chapter 2. There are things that are still wrong.
Many will say that it is not enough and that humanity has not been able to solve the main social challenges. It is true. But we are doing better than we think and than what the pessimists want to make us believe.

no somos hormigas chapter 3, from press release

Capítulo 3. Qué puedes hacer tú para mejorarlo.
¡Basta ya de quejarnos! El mundo está lleno de innovadores sociales, de personas que crean ideas y herramientas que nos permiten a todos vivir mejor, más sostenible y con más oportunidades para todos sin tener que renunciar al progreso. Si quieres conocerlas y saber lo que puedes hacer para vivir en concordancia con tus ideales encontrarás una selección de 120 en el libro y más en esa web.

Chapter 3. What you can do to make things better.
Let's stop complaining. The world is full of social innovators, people creating ideas and tools to allow all of us to live better, in a more sustainable way and with more opportunities for all without having to renounce to progress. If you want to know them and you want to discover what you can do to live in agreement with your ideals, you will find a selection of 120 in this book and more on the web site.

No somos hormigas includes Global Voices in their selection of innovative platforms.

The team behind the project practice what they preach. Through an innovative use of infographics and making use of a combination of traditional and digital media, No somos hormigas offers a balanced, critical view of the state of the planet, and offers concrete options for significant change.

You can preview the book on their site and it can be bought on print or as a digital edition. You can also read their blog [es] for recent news and ideas, and you can follow them on Twitter @NoSomosHormigas.

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