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Human Tradition in a Technological Age

Human Tradition in a Technological Age
“It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass."

Merry Merkle is back! Much Wow! The Ethereum community raised nearly $200k for a homeless youth shelter in Toronto last year. This year, we've found an awesome school in rural South Africa, and will even be getting some people there to help build a high school class that African Angels needs for next year.

The campaign begins today(!), the 1st of December, 2018 and will last the entire month. We will accept donations in ETH, SNT or DAI. We will also be gathering in person in Cintsa East, South Africa from the 10-17th December to help build a high school classroom for next year, read an awesome book Consensys designed called "Trust Fruit" with the children and generally learn more about their lives in rural South Africa. It's not just about digital bits this time...

If you want to get involved, or contribute in any way, please join us in the #merrymerkle chat in Status, or check out this discuss post. You can read more about, and contribute to, the philosophy of this year's drive here.

Buidling Culture

The concept of tradition, largely lambasted in our age as the go-to for those who want to shortcut thinking, is - in many ways - also critical to creating communities which are sustainable. As my ancestor once said:

“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”
-- Gustav Mahler

Traditions can be a counterbalancing force to the dehumanising tendency of most technology. The wealth distribution in all cryptocurrencies is far more skewed than even the most unequal nation states on the planet. Certainly, there are some technological fixes for this, but it seems to me that there is also a lot of very human work to be done in terms of engendering the right traditions which can give birth to a culture capable of functioning with an "abundance mindset".

So, what are the traditions that you most want to choose for yourself? And can you imagine them at scale?

Give Freely, Receive Gracefully

Personally, Merry Merkle is exactly the kind of tradition in which I want to choose to take part. Think about it:

  1. There is no Merry Merkle company, organisation, institution, "formal group" of any kind.
  2. Whoever wants to run it, i.e. whoever has a really good cause they care about personally, can.
  3. All the resources used each year are open source, so we build on each other's work and make it better each year with minimal co-ordination. You can find the current website code here.

I urge you to tell your friends and spread the word about our little tradition here in Ethereum. I urge you even more to take our work and use it wherever you are next year to make an even bigger impact.

There is, perhaps, nothing more human than gift-giving. Done well, it is a moment of vulnerability and responsibility mixed up in a way that only us messy beings could find beautiful. Let's use that to ensure that any technology we build is truly beneficial for those to whom we ship it.

"But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going, because they were holding on to something. That there is some good in this world, and it's worth fighting for."

P.S. If you want to know what is really at work beneath Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, watch this video (part two is even better if you have limited time).

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