Excerpt from interview with Buckminster Fuller, February 26, 1983
Interviewer: If or when we accomplish a hundred percent physically successful world, what is the next step? Can we rely on humans to progress without physical need?
RBF: I would like to come back to my earlier questions of myself of why were humans included in the Universe? I think I did discuss that earlier, didn’t I?
HUMANS AS LOCAL PROBLEM SOLVERS
RBF: I did–and that we are here as local information harvesters, local problem-solvers in support of the integrity of eternally regenerative Universe. The fact that we get away from physical problems doesn’t mean we go away from problems. The problems are really rarely physical. Much greater involves just the integrity of problems. The question of integrity will get finer and finer and more delicate and more beautiful.
Interviewer: Next question. A study of one thousand adolescents in Boston showed that seventy per cent are extremely pessimistic about the future, to the point where they don’t expect to have any future. In your travels, have you sensed this kind of pessimism among young people, and do you have any suggestions on how to convey to them your conviction that we are capable of making the world a hundred per cent physical success?
RBF: Well, I told you I find people only listen to you when they ask you to talk to them, and I do travel around speaking a very, very great deal, and I have certainly been back to Boston many, many times.
UNDERSTANDING DESIGN REVOLUTION
It certainly is true, I find audience after audience did not know we have an option to make it. There is no way they could, unless they–I’ve said it’s so difficult, because, in the first place, you have to get into technology very deeply to understand what I call the design revolution. They have to be involved where I’ve told you just about–knowing what the uses of tin are and where it is.
And so I find, because we’re dealing in an invisible reality and humanity is so specialized, it is very difficult for them to understand from one person to another.
At any rate, when I have an audience, I never have an audience that doesn’t come out–very rarely, you’ve been with me many times–they almost always give a standing ovation. In other words, I find the audiences very excited. But then they come and say to me, “Your optimism has brushed off on me. I didn’t know we had an option. I feel so much better.” They say, “Your optimism.” And I am not optimistic or pessimistic. I feel that optimism and pessimism are very unbalanced. I am a very hard engineer. I am a mechanic. I am a sailor. I am an air pilot. I don’t tell people I can get you across the ocean with my ship unless I know what I’m talking about.
WE HAVE THE OPTION TO MAKE IT
So, I think it’s absolutely touch-and-go whether we’re going to make it. But the point is, for me to tell you that you have an option is not to be optimistic.
But in real answer to that question, time and again, of course I am running into millions who don’t know we have the option, because it’s invisible, and I feel I have tremendous responsibility. So when people ask me to come and talk to them, I do my best to let them know they do have the option. Of course they’re pessimistic, not knowing that. Incidentally, I don’t mean to be sitting up here like a great wisdom. These are questions I’m answering the best I can.
Interviewer: How would you, right now in your life, define integrity?
COURAGE: A COMPONENT OF INTEGRITY
RBF: I find that I have to use the word courage, due to the circumstances of humanity. The courage to cooperate or initiate are based entirely on the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth as the divine mind within you tells you the truth is. It really does require a courage and a self-disciplining to go along with that truth. That’s the way I define it.
Interviewer: A lot of what we are all asking is, what do we do, what do we need to do, to have an impact on bringing about the realization of a successful world?
DOING YOUR OWN THINKING
RBF: Darling, I say I never try to tell anybody else what to do, number one. And number two, I think that’s what the individual is all about. Each one of us has something to contribute. This really depends on each one doing their own thinking, but not following any kind of rule that I can give out, any command. We’re all on the frontier, we’re all in a great mystery–incredibly mysterious. Each one possesses exactly what each one is working out, and what each one works out relates to their particular set of circumstances of any one day, or any one place around the world.
Interviewer: In that way, do you find for yourself, that integrity is almost a guide for you in the sense of, by feeling an integrity in a situation, is that a guide for you towards knowing when you have a set of options, or when you have to make decisions, does that play a part in knowing what you need to do next?
INTEGRITY IN THE LITTLE THINGS
RBF: No. Integrity, for my part is, I can, my experience is such and such, I have such and such a memory. I have various conceptionings, everybody else has that, and my integrity is something else. It’s, for instance, the terribly simple little things. If I’m going to be able to keep on being able to be useful–because I see I have a lot of things still to be done–there are still several more books to write. Twenty-four books have been finished. There’s more technology to be done, there are all kinds of things I can see where I could really be useful if I’m around.
WEAPONRY TO LIVINGRY
As we make various transitions–if we can get to the point where the Boeing Company, Lockheed, and so forth, begin producing livingry instead of a great deal of fighting ships and so forth. So, I say, “I’ve got to stay healthy. And I mustn’t get fat.” So just not eating that mouthful of that is part of that integrity all the time. You’re always up against it, and it’s not as if anybody else can come in and do any scoring. You’re really doing your own scoring. We know about that–about every little detail of our life–whether this is the thing we really ought to be doing. That’s it, darling.
HUMANITY IN OUR FINAL EXAM
So I have to say, I think that we are in some kind of final examination as to whether human beings now, with this capability to acquire information and to communicate, whether we’re really qualified to take on the responsibility we’re designed to be entrusted with. And this is not a matter of an examination of the types of governments, nothing to do with politics, nothing to do with economic systems. It has to do with the individual. Does the individual have the courage to really go along with the truth?
INTEGRITY OF THE INDIVIDUAL
Now you have the ability to communicate, you don’t have to say, “I didn’t know what was going on because I was illiterate.” I do know what’s going on and I have very much of a sense of what is really valid–what my life tells me works or doesn’t work, this is the truth or not the truth. So it is this matter of the integrity of the individual, the courage, the courage to go along with the truth as you personally really see it–or are you going to be swayed by the crowd? Are you going to be scared about your job, or whatever it may be? That’s why I talk about integrity. Integrity of the individual is what we’re being judged for and if we are not passing that examination, we don’t really have the guts, we’ll blow ourselves up. It will be all over. I think it’s all the difference in the world.
GROWTH OF LITERACY MEANS MORE RESPONSIBILITY
When I was born, humanity was 95 per cent illiterate. Since I’ve been born, the population has doubled and that total population is now 65 per cent literate. That’s a gain of 130-fold of the literacy. When humanity is primarily illiterate, it needs leaders to understand and get the information and deal with it. When we are at the point where the majority of humans them-selves are literate, able to get the information, we’re in an entirely new relationship to Universe. We are at the point where the integrity of the individual counts and not what the political leadership or the religious leadership says to do.
NEW MOMENT OF INTEGRITY
It’s a matter now of humanity getting to the point where it’s now qualifying to make some of its own decisions in relation to its own information. That’s why we’ve come to a new moment of integrity.