Guangzhou Buddhas, Hualin Temple, 2011
One of the great Empathetic Evolutionaries of our time passed yesterday. Hans Rosling, someone who did Big Data better than anyone, died of pancreatic cancer in Uppsala, Sweden, at the age of 68.
Hans was no glad-hander, but he devoutly did not deal in fear. If there’s an award for sensemaking in whatever sense you want, he took the numbers and empathetically led anyone who would watch to higher meaning. His message was simple — modern global civilization isn’t perfect. But it’s so much better, for so many people, that we should both appreciate, and participate in it. And what was so awesome about his thoughts and deeds was, besides the message itself, his deep understanding of the need for scaffolding his highest levels of thought with those layered underneath. You got guiding principles and demonstration of global empathy. But underneath, you got direction, data, facts, and expert opinion. No one has done it better.
I’ve watched a number of his presentations, and can’t recall if he directly addressed the ‘fear’ aspect of control that he worked his whole life to dissipate. But he did confront it with his presentations and actions. If only our leaders had 1/10 of his insight — we could stop the waste of constant conflict and war that pervades our international sense. Here’s a piece below that addresses that data-driven optimism that I love.
and here’s his TED talk, for your convenience. What a great title!