Celebrate Human Achievement Day!
Here's how and why!
What is Human Achievement Day?
“We are all achievers, whether nurturing a child to maturity or business to profitability, writing a song, poem, business plan, or dissertation, laying the bricks to a building, designing it, or arranging for its financing.”
Please join us in marking October 21st as Human Achievement Day!
Want to go on the offensive, to unapologetically help unleash a future of unimaginable prosperity with longer, healthier lives for all in a free society? Want to replace the pessimism, nihilism, anger, and malevolence in our culture with optimism, purpose, joy in achievement, and benevolence?
In the U.S., we have a Labor Day, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving Day, and even an Earth Day. Other countries have their own special days.
Celebrating a Human Achievement Day renews and strengthens values, priorities, assumptions, and expectations both in our culture and in ourselves that are necessary if we are to live the happiest, most flourishing lives possible.
We pick October 21st to celebrate because it is the anniversary of Thomas Edison’s invention of the first workable lightbulb. Want more lightbulbs shining above our heads, symbolizing new, human-enhancing ideas in our minds—ideas with which we can change the world? Then check out our expanding toolkit at www.humanachievementalliance.org and be a leader in the celebration of Human Achievement Day!
What Are Human Achievements?
Human achievements are innovations that enhance human prosperity, expand individual choices and liberty, improve health, and extend longevity. They are achievements that inspire the best within us so we pursue our own dreams and achievements, often in partnership with others based on mutual consent.
Advances in technology and productive processes are the most obvious examples of such achievements. Such advances over the past two centuries and, indeed, the past few decades have unleashed economic productivity and created wealth that has replaced the grueling poverty and short, often miserable lives that plagued the vast majority of humans throughout history with prosperity and health for billions.
Human achievements also include the expansion of individual liberty and creation of innovative social institutions; indeed, these advances were necessary to unleash the Industrial Revolution and are needed to continue the Exponential Technology Revolution.
Ultimately, our rational human minds are the sources of innovation and progress, and liberty to think and act are essential for our very lives and for our opportunities to flourish. That’s why the Declaration of Independence, which created the United States based on liberty, ranks as one of humanity’s greatest achievements!
Why a Human Achievement Day?
In light of this incredible progress, you’d think there’d be unanimity on the on values and public policies needed to ensure our future. Yet our country, society, and world face an appalling disconnect from this processive reality.
- On the one hand, exponential technologies in information, nanotech, biotech, robotics, and AI promise a future of unimaginable prosperity with longer, healthier lives for all. These technologies will radically transform and drive the economy, society, social institutions, and culture in coming decades.
- On the other hand, there are profound misunderstandings and fears—of robots taking jobs, AIs ruling us, gene editing creating a “bio-divide” like the ‘90s feared “digital divide” or a soulless Master Race—with pushback and calls for government regulations that would stifle or kill innovation.
- Further, our institutions are unable to meet current much less future needs. Businesses need workers with the requisite skills, and individuals need remunerative, fulfilling careers. Yet we have the one-size-fits-all, assembly-line, government-dominated, antiquated schooling system. Before the pandemic, there were 1.6 million more job openings than unemployed Americans because of the failures of this system. Or consider that millions of Americans suffer each year from ailments for which there are few effective treatments and several million die each year. Yet much of the $3 billion cost and 10-12 years it takes to bring new treatments from research lab to patient are caused by antiquated Food and Drug Administration certification requirements that fill invisible graveyards with those for whom cures come too late or never.
- A root cause of these disconnects is the undermining of the Enlightenment principles on which the modern world is based: reason; science; open discussion; the moral primacy of individuals—to be judged, in Martin Luther King’s words, not “by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”; and individual liberty, including economic freedom.
- Today, individuals indoctrinated in post-modernist dogma lead media, entertainment, civic organizations, religions, charities, corporate boards, politics, and—of course—schooling. And this dogma, especially in its misguided “Woke” manifestation, more and more infects the culture.
How, then, do we change the culture, a necessity if we’re to change the policies blocking a prosperous, healthy future?
Human Achievement Day offers a short- and long-term means to replace in our culture the pessimism, nihilism, anger, and malevolence with optimism, purpose, joy in achievement, and benevolence. While essays—like this one!—books, and speeches can help change the culture, it is reintegrating Enlightenment values into the culture through actions that can turn the culture around.
THE GOALS OF HUMAN ACHIEVEMENT DAY
What are the goals and benefits of Human Achievement Day?
First, a Human Achievement Day would raise consciousness about the incredible world in which we live—a world we often take for granted—and how it came about.
Imagine students giving class reports on the origins of the equipment in their classrooms. How did personal computers and laptops, which didn’t exist 50 years ago, come into their hands? How is it that smartphones, which didn’t exist before 2007, are owned by 87 percent of American adults?
On a really hot day, tell students or your friends and neighbors this story: In 1906, a publishing company found temperature variations in its facility caused printing equipment to expand or contract subtly, making it difficult to keep the machines properly aligned for the multistage color printing process.
Willis Carrier solved the company’s problem by inventing the air conditioner. It was later picked up by Depression-era movie theaters and stores to bring in customers. The air conditioner, of course, eventually brought comfort to all our homes.
Anyone alive today should reflect on the fact that life expectancy has risen globally from under 40 years old in 1800 to over 80 today! Keeping you alive: that’s an achievement!
Second, Human Achievement Day would focus our minds on the foundations of achievement. Wishing won’t make achievements come to be. We achieve great feats because we use our minds and reason to understand the natural world. We use our imaginations to see that a better world is possible. We apply our knowledge in entrepreneurial endeavors to create a better world.
Our most awesome achievement is the creation of our own moral characters, cultivating in ourselves the virtues of rationality, personal responsibility, courage, discipline, fortitude, integrity, independent judgment, and benevolence.
Achievement requires the liberty to act, a free-market system in which all entrepreneurs—a Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos—can pursue a vision without begging permission from myriad government agencies, their neighbors, or anyone else. We all, of course, should be free to convince potential partners, friends, and neighbors to join us voluntarily in promising enterprises—for-profit, non-profit, social, and civic enterprises alike!—just as we at the Human Achievement Alliance invite you to be our partners in celebrating this special day!
Third, a Human Achievement Day would help create a fundamental shift in the culture, replacing today’s cultural pessimism, nihilism, and anger with optimism, purpose, joy in achievement, and benevolence. Focusing on achievement, sharing with others a commitment to creating a future world as it can and should be, leaves no room for the “Identity Politics,” “Us against them” polarization, and outright hate and violence we see in our world today.
Consider the sort of attitude that would be inculcated in our culture by a Human Achievement Day. Thomas Edison tested 6,000 filaments before finding one that kept his lightbulb glowing. He didn’t consider these 6,000 failures but, rather, as successes in discovering materials that didn’t work! In today’s parlance, we say it’s best for entrepreneurs, if necessary, to “fail fast and fail forward” so they can move on to ultimate successes. Henry Ford started two companies that failed before he started Ford Motors!
These are the attitudes a Human Achievement Day would nurture!
Fourth, Human Achievement Day would lay the cultural and moral groundwork for policy forms necessary to unleash our prosperous and healthy future. Politics and public politics often follow culture rather than define it. The more that achievement values are promoted, manifested, and celebrated in the culture, the more they point to the radical liberalization of public policies needed to unleash the prosperous and healthy future, the more policymakers, always seeking votes and public approval, will need to bow to the will of such a future!
How You Can Participate!
The Human Achievement Alliance offers you ideas and materials to help you be a leader promoting and celebrating October 21st as Human Achievement Day. (You can check out our expanding toolkit at www.humanachievementalliance.org!) One of your achievements can be contacting us with your own ideas. Synergy between like-minded individuals always yields the best result.
So how can you mark Human Achievement Day and help create an achievement culture?
An Achievement Culture Means:
Appreciate your achievements.
Start with the achiever you know best: you! Before you can appreciate and celebrate the achievements of others and promote the achievement ethos in our culture, you need to do so in yourself. We’re not talking about looking in the mirror and saying, “I’m great!” We’re talking about self-reflection, of looking inside yourself and taking stock.
Take time to ask yourself, what are your greatest achievements in life? Are there recent achievements about which you are most proud? How did you do it? Since life is an ongoing process, are there aspirations and goals you wish to achieve and toward which you are still working? Where do you need to improve? What have you learned from failures? Remember that answering these questions might seem hard, but it is an achievement to have the strength to ask them and to try to come up with an honest answer. Your greatest achievement is the creation of your own moral character!
Celebrate with family and friends.
Sharing with others helps us all. Sharing doesn’t mean comparing, thinking, “I’m better than this person.” True pride is not boastful. Nor does it mean to denigrate yourself, thinking, “I haven’t accomplished as much as that person.” We might say that it was a more difficult task to work long years to become a brain surgeon than to become a really good stock clerk in a store. But the achievement is something about you. You should be grateful for the brain surgeon. And the surgeon should be glad you do your job well. An achievement for you is to take joy in the achievement of others and not become envious or resentful of others.
On a somber but consciousness-raising note, remember loved ones who died in the past who would certainly be alive today because of advances in medical technology. This will raise your consciousness about how fortunate we are today and light a fire under you to promote the attitudes and policies that can alleviate suffering and save lives.
Sharing with others reinforces your commitment to achievement, so have a sharing session, perhaps over a meal or at a restaurant, as a celebration!
With the children.
Kids might well take part in your family celebration. But kids are still growing, they have their lives ahead of them, and they need to appreciate the moral virtues it will take to reach their goals in life; indeed, they will probably still be formulating those goals.
On Human Achievement Day, take stock with them of their goals. What excites them about today’s world and about a possible future? Talk through what it will actually take to reach various goals. Nurture in them the self-reflection they will need to always be evaluating their progress. Help them appreciate that just as when they were toddlers, they fell many times before they could really walk, they might be unsteady and fall in their initial efforts, but that’s how they learn.
Instill in them the self-confidence that they can achieve their goals, the self-respect that they are worthy of their achievements, and self-motivation to refine their capacities and moral character.
Many parents already do this, but use Human Achievement Day to recommit to making raising children as achievers an ongoing project in their young lives, beyond just the one day.
Here the possibilities are almost endless. If you home-school or if your kids are in certain private schools, you should have leeway to develop an imaginative approach to raising their consciousness about achievement. There are many books and learning materials for all ages that can help: the Tuttle Twins book series, especially “The Miraculous Pencil,” and the Issit.org education initiative provide a wealth of materials!
Or have teachers in a class direct the “How can we make it happen?” game. What would it take to engineer the environment of Mars to make it suitable for human biology? Or, perhaps, what would it take to engineer human biology to make it suitable for the environment of Mars? Or, better still, what would it take to engineer the human genome so that we would not age and die? And these discussions would not be science fiction; instructors—perhaps interactive AIs!—help students anchor their aspiration in facts and actual science.
We’re still living in the age of the communications and information revolution. Kids should reflect on how 50 years ago, computers were giant, costly mainframes used only by large, well-financed businesses, research centers, and governments. What technological breakthroughs, combined with the entrepreneurial visions and talents of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and many others led to the laptops and smartphones we all have today that, despite their small size, dwarf the power of their hulking ancestors, including the many banks of machines necessary to land humans on the Moon?
Imagine future students playing the "If not for" game:
“If not for the nanotech material in a replacement kidney, my mom would spend more time—and money we don’t have—on a dialysis machine than with us.” “If not for his brain implant and artificial eyes, my dad would be blind.” “If not for the discovery of the nature of my illness by artificial intelligence, I’d still be sick.” “If not for the genetically engineered cells that cured my cancer, I’d be dead.”
The possibilities are endless!
Your business or place of employment.
Most of us work for businesses, run or own one, or perhaps have set up one. So take time on Human Achievement Day with your fellows at the enterprise to reflect on and celebrate its achievements. What values does the business create? What are the challenges met and challenges ahead? Why not get the employees together for a consciousness-raising session?
Which groups do you belong to, or do you know in your community that might participate in Human Achievement Day? Churches, civic groups, community associations, sports organizations, nonprofits?
How about organizing a “Human Achievement Day” fair in your town square or park? Invite local businesses and other groups to set up the tables highlighting their efforts. Invite media. Urge them to highlight Human Achievement Day in their news coverage. Imagine local TV or radio reporters interviewing business folks and passersby about “What achievements of yours gave your life purpose and make you proud?”
On Human Achievement Day, celebrate and work for the liberty that allowed entrepreneurial individuals and enterprises to create the communications and information revolution, and will be necessary to unleash a prosperous future of long, healthy lives for all.
Ask your elected representatives to truly represent you and the values and liberty for which you stand to affirm their support for those values and that liberty, perhaps passing resolutions honoring human achievers.
Do you know how many achievers in other countries have contributed to the exponential revolution in America, or how many entrepreneurs in other countries have used American innovations to create their own achievements?
On Human Achievement Day, appreciate that the value of achievement is not confined by national boundaries.
Three centuries ago, the Enlightenment began in a few European countries but was not confined to these countries. It spread throughout Europe and, in the following centuries, throughout the world. It embraced all individuals, regardless of national, racial, or ethnic origin. Indeed, the United States is the shining child of the Enlightenment, created by individuals of all backgrounds seeking the liberty to achieve their own dreams.
A Human Achievement Day should be an international celebration!