If you were to choose one monument that perfectly summed up both the scientific ingenuity and boundless imagination of humanity you wouldn’t need to look further than the Pyramids of Giza. The Great Pyramid, constructed nearly 4600 years ago, is the only surviving Wonder of the World and was the tallest building on the planet until the construction of Lincoln Cathedral in 1311. Such a marvel required the mobilization of Egyptian society in its entirety. What allowed such a massive task to succeed?
Contrary to popular belief, slaves did not build the pyramids. All evidence points towards the employment of skilled workers, who received a salary and lived nearby. The machinery of the operation was also widely spread across the country — grain from the Delta in the north, granite from Aswan in the south and limestone from Tura (a cross-country system like that used by NASA for its centers and facilities today).
These tens of thousands of workers, both women and men, were housed in specially constructed apartment buildings provided for them. They were well-fed and received medical care, most likely inclusive of the project. In addition to this permanent population, farmers from across Egypt participated during the flooding of the Nile (when they were unable to actively cultivate their fields) from around June to September every year. The abundance of their produce allowed them four months a year to be dedicated to other ends, without fear of starvation, want or homelessness. In all, the whole population was touched in some way by this great undertaking.
If an ancient civilization can do so much and yet lack our modern technology, can we not find a way to channel the best parts of their method into our own endeavors? Involving people who live in many parts of the world increases the diversity of ideas and experience for any project, whilst bringing us closer together in our deeds. Providing for the basic needs of the individual, whether it be through housing like Citizen State or another resource, is essential for offering people the standard of wellbeing necessary to answer their internal drive towards greatness. Perhaps most strikingly, the Egyptian farmers’ ability to dedicate themselves to a project they were passionate about for a portion of the year is a testament to what abundance, when properly distributed, can do for a society. Imagine what you could do with four months a year to pursue your dreams.
Ultimately, the Pyramids of Giza offered the whole of society one thing above all: purpose. In our age of competing interests and divisive politics, a unifying and positive purpose is hard to come by. I am not suggesting that we submit to the vision and will of a Pharaoh to find that purpose — each person must be allowed to discover their own path. I am saying that there is deep value in identifying your purpose, it also being the duty of us all to direct such a purpose towards the betterment of humankind. Those who have the power to catalyze individual purpose, through provision of basic needs or otherwise, surely have an obligation to do so.
Citizen State seeks such a society of purpose; with people, startups and investors pledged towards this higher goal. Can you aid us in our mission? Do you have a startup that needs a home or a vacant property that needs a purpose? Want to talk about it? You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.