Rebel Book: #74
Book: Humankind by Rutger Bregman
Meetups: London, Bristol, Mibo Island
Fuel: Toast Ales, Dash Water
Action: £150 raised for Second Tree
Humankind in Review
// Words by Ben Keene //
Kicking off with a quote…
‘There is a persistent myth that by their very nature humans are selfish, aggressive and quick to panic. It’s what is known as veneer theory: the notion that civilisation is nothing more than a thin veneer that will crack the perest provocation. In actuality, the opposite is true. It’s when crisis hits – when the bombs fall or the floodwaters rise- that we humans become our best selves.’ - HUMANKIND
Bregman then spends the next 400 pages making compelling cases against some of the most well-known ‘humans are bad’ stories and psychological experiments over the last 100 years. From the British & German responses to the bombing blitzes of WW2 to the fate of the Easter Islanders and the Stanford Prison Experiment, we are taken on an investigative adventure to prove that in each of these cases, the results are either unjustified or mistaken.
Humankind is a rollercoaster ride of hope, surprise, and further questioning of human nature. It is not bulletproof and picking intellectual holes in Bregman’s tapestry of ‘new realism’ is tempting but when you zoom out it is hard not to feel more confident that your own sense of ‘the kindness of strangers’ is part of a much bigger cultural and historical pattern.
Ultimately I suspect that Humankind is particularly compelling for those with a relatively pain-free lived experience. For those who have suffered at the hands of others, the idea that we are programmed for good might be a lot harder to accept.
Introducing Our Rebel Book Club Wall of Hope
We had our first in-person meetups since February 2020! We returned to our favourite haunts, combined with some virtual woodland gatherings, to share our perspectives of Humankind and our own stories of hope, starting with our senses. Which smell gives you hope?
What smells like Hope?
- Fresh plants, oils, mints
- Swimming pools
- Cheap fish and chips shops on walk to a football stadium
- Anything citrus
- That smell when you’re in the woods and it’s just rained. You can smell the weight of the air- still heavy with water droplets. You can smell- weight! Also the smell of the forest is awakened by the evaporating dew that has befallen it. All the smells of wild garlic, earthy soil and green leaves comes to life. It’s a beautiful, full blend of aromas
- Sandalwood and the smell of the ocean
- The smell right after the first rain
- The sea
- Coffee, ocean spray, babies, mountain air, football leather, new books, baked bread in a tropical climate, beach bonfire smoke, coconut soap
- Fresh coffee
Music for Hope
- Hip hop, pop, mellow rap
- Lots of time is the Electronic ones, but can be from Fado (see Nessi Gomez to Bajofondo Tango Club)
- Oasis / Laurel / Summer vibe
- James Brown – Get On The Good Foot
- Fast music
- Old fashioned upbeat 50s/60s music. Think Rockin Robin or Mr Sandman by the Chordettes
- R + B and Soca
- Don’t Take the Money by the Bleachers
- Either old skool roots/reggae (sunshine music) or euphoric, soulful dance. Fav drop – Prospa: Want, Need, Love
- Indie Summer
Who gives you Hope?
- Parents, friends
- Currently Rob Hopkins
- Any friend or known person that show up, and try to create value. For example, I have a friend that’s offering 4 weeks of mindset training for rewriting the stories about ourselves. Street singers who are showing their souls through music. Kids. Anyone who plays like a kid.
- David Attenborough / Gary Vee / Ben Francis / Sally Rooney
- Random encounters with strangers – those passing conversations whether in real life or online
- My family and friends because they share many of the things I care about too. They are students of life always wanting to improve and grow.
- Michelle and Barak Obama, Kim Kardashian!, Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg
- Barack Obama
- Young activists, my kids, the snail in my fish tank
- Stories of those who overcome adversity
What gives you Hope?
- Meeting new people and checking off accomplishments
- Drawing and painting
- People smiling. Seeing people doing random act of kindness. A hug. Sunset. A viewing from a top of a mountain.
- Watching special moments in nature
- Combined after winning a football game / unity at a live music gig
- That people are kind
- The sunshine
- Children when I see them growing in care. Also, birdsong- there is nothing that brings me into the present like tuning into the sound of birds singing
- Seeing the blessings, gratitude, sunrise, a child’s laughter
- Strangers doing kind acts for other strangers
- My grandson
- Passionate, creative people committing to a cause
- Connecting with people
“This book club.”
Well trained members always welcome :)
If you’re new here, welcome!
We are Rebel Book Club, a global nonfiction book club.
We’ve been reading together for 5+ years and we exist to accelerate your reading habits, connect you with like-minded thinkers + doers and take positive action in a changing world…
We have an event at the end of each month, where we hear from experts in a relevant field to the books we’re reading – which is how this blog post came about.
We can’t wait to welcome you aboard!