Humankind: a book that reminds us of the human instinct to do good over bad

With yabbering politicians on the telly, sensationalist news in the press, and all the confusion coming out of Covid-19 lockdown (or still being locked in – if you’re in Queensland or Victoria), it’s easy to lose site of optimism.

Try breaking away from the bad news for a while and you’ll find there is actually a lot of good in the world right now.

Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman is a book that brims with such optimism. It reminds us that despite what the media and our leaders might want us to think, the world is in pretty good shape at the moment, and the people who populate it are fairly decent folk.

Bregman uses examples thoughout history in which kindness has proven to prevail over meanness – and it’s interesting to note the extreme scenarios during which we humans express our generous side. Such as during Hitler’s bombings throughout World War II, and when the planes hit the World Trade Centre as victims rushed down stairs to escape debris and danger but still put the interests of their colleagues first.

Interestingly, the book highlights a particular study that shows ‘friendliness’ to be a strong quality of the human race; one that is constantly evolving: that we are actually becoming nicer, friendlier, more generous, while our aesthetics, too, are getting softer!

Reading Humankind is a great antidote to the pain and suffering witnessed on the news – and exaggerated in the media. It’ll remind you when doom-scrolling through Facebook – or when next wanting to bitch in a forum online – to look at situations in a more positive way. Not through rose-coloured lenses – for the author certainly highlights sad things that also need attention right now, such climate change – but with a brighter mind and wider eyes.

Imperative reading for right now.

Antonino Tati

‘Humankind: A Hopeful History’ is published through Bloomsbury, RRP $32.99 and available in quality bookstores, physical and online.

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