In this Spring 2012 edition of B Beyond magazine, we would like to celebrate the irrepressible optimism of youth, the beauty of nature, rebirth, and the hope that springs eternal from that which makes us human and is often defined as ‘soul’.
Many have cited the Mayan calendar predicting the end of the world this year and many still have extrapolated from it a ‘new age’ dawn for humanity. I choose to believe in the latter, not least because I am ever the optimist, but also because this new age has been gathering momentum, imperceptibly yet palpably, for some time now.
Science is making huge strides towards not only prolonging lifespan but also improving its quality as we age. Stem cell research is making bold strides towards a new paradigm shift in medicine whereby entirely new organs will be grown to replace impaired ones – and younger looking faces will complement the extended longevity.
Technology is making lives easier, although better connectivity often equals social isolation. We need to re-learn the art of conversation and interaction for the pleasure of it, rather than for networking. Already there is a generation out there that prefers remote socialising to real life encounters.
New, greener technologies and sustainable/alternative architecture are becoming mainstream rather than the preserve of a few radical dreamers.
Conservation is big, with some passionate advocates of it trailblazing across Africa, empowering communities, setting up commodity exchanges, creating amazing structures and dramatically changing lifestyles and perceptions.
This has led to a revival of small artisanal industries and inspired new art and design forms. The globalisation of art itself means enhanced opportunities for creative people and collectors alike, although the industry, functioning as a closed club, continues to lack transparency.
Finally, never before has philanthropy loomed so large on the social landscape as in this relatively new 21st century.
Spearheaded by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, The Giving Pledge is Big Philanthropy with a capital P. Two of the individuals who have signed up to it are profiled in this edition: T Boone Pickens and Nicolas Berggruen.
Why are people who have worked for their money (and in many cases still do) so determined to give a large proportion of it away in their lifetime and beyond?
The answer is quite simple, really – giving back is the greatest privilege of all. You learn this as earn your stripes and eventually come to a place where nothing but transforming other people’s lives can bring you lasting happiness.