Few weeks ago, I went on one of the startup events, here in Sofia. Although my work @ UNIVERSLESS has nothing to do with this, I have a long interest in startups, so I am always excited at the possibility to learn more. But I never felt like these events are for learning new things, as much as they are meant for networking. This time, though, the selection of speakers really caught my attention and I couldn't miss it, so I went.

Everything was great - awesome speakers, very interesting panelists and discussions formed, the crowd behaved quite alright.
But during one of the panels, someone said something, which really stuck with me and I've meant to post something about it ever since:

"Don't give me a vitamin, give me a Painkiller."

Now, obviously, the context to this statement, was the impact of a startup's solution to their user's problem.

But I think it also, perhaps accidentally, showed everything that is wrong with commercialism (and capitalism) in one sentence... It shows everything that is wrong with our (western) way of thinking about problems and solutions. Not only that the moral side to a "solution" is almost never considered, as long as there's profit, but a solution would usually "treat a symptom" instead of "curing the disease".

- "Don't give me a painkiller - find me a Cure."

Why not have it this way? It's so much better! Instead of treating that pain, we attack the cause, we get rid of the "sickness".

You might say "Well, yes, if we can - we should cure it. But sometimes painkillers are the only option.". That's correct, but we shouldn't base our primary approach to solving problems, on situations that are supposed to be a minority and not the norm.

This is not the first time I have thought about this, in fact, every time someone mentions the possibility of the world being in the new startup bubble, the first thought that comes to my mind is not about the huge number of failed startups - it's the questionably "positive" change, which those that get to a billion dollars bring.

Picture of Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein, official 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics photograph, source Wikipedia

"It would be foolish to despise tradition. But with our growing self-consciousness and increasing intelligence we must begin to control tradition and assume a critical attitude toward it, if human relations are ever to change for the better. We must try to recognize what in our accepted tradition is damaging to our fate and dignity—and shape our lives accordingly."
-- Albert Einstein, from his famous writing on racial inequality in the US - "The Negro Question" [1].

These words are immortal.

Ignoring not only issues like racial inequality, but also preventable human deaths (wars, unregulated gun ownership, dictatorships, refugees of war etc.), climate change, religious extremism, gender inequality, preventable animal deaths... For me feels like burying your head in the sand and comforting yourself behind rules, which you already know to be unjust...

Fortunately, opinions and actions on most of these are a matter of choice - you either excuse yourself with the popular beliefs and socially accepted, etc. or you do what you know will, someday, be a law and a rule for everyone else to follow.

One thing makes me very optimistic - so much more people, each and every day, follow the rules of tomorrow. Not needing a shepherd nor a government to "make" them do it. :)

Don't forget Reality - it's right here, it's right now, you should operate according to its laws, but don't do all the stupid s*** allowed by society, either.

[1] On Being, "ALBERT EINSTEIN: THE NEGRO QUESTION (1946)"