A reading club with a view to the future

384 Rutger Bregman: Humankind

This book challenges the notion of humans as inherently selfish by exploring examples of kindness and cooperation throughout history.



"Human Kind: A Hopeful History" presents a refreshing perspective on human nature, highlighting instances of altruism and cooperation that defy conventional beliefs. Rutger Bregman argues that kindness is an innate trait and offers a compelling case for building a more compassionate society.


Title: "Human Kind: A Hopeful History"

Author: Rutger Bregman

Publishing year: 2020

Publisher: Little, Brown & Company

Length in hours: 11 hours and 37 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. Humans possess an intrinsic capacity for kindness and empathy.
  2. Altruism and cooperation have played significant roles in shaping human civilization.
  3. The belief in human selfishness perpetuates societal inequalities and undermines collective progress.
  4. By embracing our inherent goodness, we can foster a more compassionate and equitable future.
  5. Small acts of kindness can have profound ripple effects and drive positive social change.

5 funny quotes

  1. "If you want to make a lasting impact, start with small acts of kindness. They may not change the world overnight, but they can definitely make someone's day."
  2. "The power of a smile should never be underestimated. It costs nothing but has the potential to brighten someone's day and create a ripple of positivity."
  3. "Sometimes, the most radical act of rebellion is simply being kind in a world that often rewards selfishness."
  4. "Kindness is like a boomerang – it always comes back to you. So, throw it out into the world and watch the magic happen!"
  5. "The world could use a little more kindness and a lot more ice cream. Let's sprinkle both generously."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "The real question is not whether humans are fundamentally good or bad, but what kind of world we want to create that brings out the best in us." - Rutger Bregman
  2. "Kindness is not a luxury; it is a necessity for our collective survival and progress." - Rutger Bregman
  3. "The most powerful force in the world is human connection fueled by empathy and compassion." - Rutger Bregman
  4. "Generosity and trust are the currencies of a thriving society." - Rutger Bregman
  5. "When we expect the worst from others, we often bring out the worst in them. Let's choose to expect the best instead." - Rutger Bregman

5 dilemmas

  1. The Nature-Nurture Dilemma: To what extent are human behaviors and characteristics shaped by innate qualities (nature) versus environmental influences (nurture)?
  2. The Altruism-Egoism Dilemma: Are humans fundamentally driven by self-interest and egoism, or is altruism and cooperation deeply rooted in our nature?
  3. The Optimism-Pessimism Dilemma: Is humanity on a path of progress, capable of solving its problems through collective effort, or are we doomed to repeat past mistakes and face inevitable collapse?
  4. The Individual-Collective Dilemma: Balancing the importance of individual freedoms and autonomy with the need for collective action and cooperation to address global challenges.
  5. The Technology-Morality Dilemma: Navigating the ethical implications of advancing technologies and ensuring they serve human welfare and well-being rather than exacerbating inequality and exploitation.

5 examples

  1. The Pay It Forward movement, where people perform acts of kindness for strangers with the hope that they will do the same for others.
  2. The Green Belt Movement, founded by Wangari Maathai, which promotes environmental conservation and women's empowerment in Kenya.
  3. The Munduruku tribe in Brazil, who resist the destruction of their land and culture by collaborating with environmental activists.
  4. The Universal Basic Income experiments conducted in Finland and other countries, which explore the benefits of providing everyone with a basic income.
  5. The empathy-based education programs implemented in schools, such as Roots of Empathy, to cultivate kindness and emotional intelligence in children.

Referenced books

  1. "The Better Angels of Our Nature" by Steven Pinker
  2. "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind" by Yuval Noah Harari
  3. "The Kindness of Strangers" by Kate Adie
  4. "The Altruistic Species" by Andrew Fenton and Philip M. Boffey
  5. "The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty" by Simon Baron-Cohen

Share a quote

"Kindness is like a boomerang – it always comes back to you. So, throw it out into the world and watch the magic happen!"

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