21 Lessons for the 21st Century – Yuval Noah Harari

Sapiens is likely in my top three favorite books of all time. Although I’ve stopped recommending it to people, because I think, if you don’t have a certain humanist bend you won’t appreciate it. And then, even if you are quite rational, Sapiens is likely to leave you feeling depressed as fuck. Or in the very least largely indifferent as to whether humanity is a ‘good’ thing or not.

As opening paragraphs go that might sounds like an indictment of  Yuval Noah Harari. But I really do love everything he’s written, so I was super excited to read his new book…. until I found out the title.

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God I hate number titles. 12 rules. 21 lessons. 6 steps. 4 hour. Fuck you all. Seriously.

Having said that… my bedside table has a stack of paperbacks at the moment that is starting to teeter quite precariously to one side. My reading habits are probably much to be desired and I tend to flit, whimsically, from paperbacks to kindle to comics with no real… agenda. For someone who reads books cover to cover… I am likely the anti-christ.

21 Lessons for the 21st Century I bought on Audible, read by Derek Perkins (who is brilliant).

I’ve been re-listening to Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History series (quite an undertaking) on my morning 5mi… I want to say run… but I think someone who actually runs might take issue with my form of forward locomotion… and be amused that I dain to call that ‘running’.

In any event, 21 lessons has been my staple for the last week on my morning exertions and post exercise, my companion on my commute. Unsurprisingly its really good and I’ve been hooked.

I don’t necessarily want to compare it with Sapiens or Homo Deus. I am however inclined to say that these books should likely be read in the order they were published in, and while they can be appreciated as single entities, to get the full on Harari experience… they should be consumed Sapiens, Homo Deus… *sigh* 21 Lessons. (two great titles followed by an utterly shit one, I blame… well originally Tim Ferriss… but more recently Jordan Peterson)

21 Lessons is more… current… I guess is the best way to describe it. Where as Sapiens is about the past and Homo Deus about the future. We are likely living in a transition period (although all humans throughout time have probably thought this) from the old liberal world order to… something else, as yet undefined… and we are struggling to decide what that new world order will look like. The decisions we as a species make now are absolutely critical to whether we make it as species in the future (unfortunately we will likely all be dead to see the outcomes of those decisions).

I think the biggest takeaway (for me at least) is that we can’t be passengers and spectators in this shift and decision making process and that we all need to start taking a much more active roll in how we progress as humanity and what our legacy will be to those future generations.

7 thoughts on “21 Lessons for the 21st Century – Yuval Noah Harari

    1. Agreed. I often wonder if we romanticize the past as a time period when people were nicer to each other… we don’t even have to go that far back… or have we always been so ‘deficient’ and lacking and technology has just made us more aware of these… flaws. I think its fair to call them flaws?

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      1. I personally think we were always lacking skills to be a species that survives forever, but I also,wonder if any species is one.
        I believe humanity has an ending, when? Meh. Not sure I care lol.
        Borderline nihilistic comment but it lies more to the side of realism in my opinion, and I am not without hope….for certain things. 🤷‍♀️
        Anyway, so as not to be a downer, I’ll end this with yes, there are actions we need to take as human beings that will help facilitate longer existence

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      2. I also think we (as a species) have an… expiry date. A lot of people think this is sad.
        I tend to take the more stoic approach… which can likely distilled down to ‘meh’.
        But I do want to do my part… and at least try… and help (whatever that really means)

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      3. Even with my cynical sounding views, I believe in doing. I’ve seen many many hours of life contemplating existence, been through my share of existential depression and didn’t come out a nihilist. Lol surprisingly enough. I settled on hope, perhaps not for something already doomed like humanity. But hope that my tiny ‘good and right’ We people give to life rubs off on others. We are action/reaction everything. So everyone of my actions sets off reactions, some I’ll never even know which reminds me that every action, reaction, behavior I have will have a repercussion if some sort. Meaning I make differences.
        And really, let me step out of our tiny little mindsets and brains here for a second, if humans run their course, we have still influenced the world, the universe, in whatever way. Keep it real. 😉

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