On December 7, 2015, an erratic candidate with racist tendencies called for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the country. This is so un-American that would make the founding fathers turn in their graves and great American legends like Justice William O Douglas and Lowell Thomas cringe from their resting places in the Heavens above. Scores of senior US diplomats have also spoken out against such dangerous rhetoric. citizen_of_two_worlds_amazon-clean-cropAs global citizens, we are in search for inspiration, particularly in the troubling times we live.  We need inspiration that will elevate our thoughts and actions for the greater good of humanity. "Citizen of Two Worlds," by Col Ata-Ullah over 60 years ago provides the kind of guidance needed now. This book brings out the greatness of America in ways you might not have seen or heard before. In writing the foreword for this book, Thomas prepares the readers about the fascinating journey they will take through time and about the education of a young boy growing up along the railroad tracks in India with his beloved father. Through this journey you will discover that the young boy becomes a famous physician who served with distinction in wartime and then scale the heights of the killer mountain in Pakistani side of the Himalayas called K-2. From the foreword, the reader will once again discover the boundless optimism in the American spirit because Thomas's words communicate the inclusive America yearning to connect with the world across the oceans. In his review, published in the New York Herald Tribune, Justice Douglas wrote: "Ata-Ullah … ended like his father, extracting from the Koran a philosophy of life that extolled virtue in man and service to humanity. The warmth and sincerity of this philosophy permeates every page, as does the exciting and enduring love between Ata-Ullah and Qamar his wife…The essence of this book is not in the events but in their telling… He touches common strands of humanity in every episode. The love between him and Qamar makes this book enduring literature.” When Justice Douglas wrote about “every episode” covered this magnificent book, he was speaking judiciously as an American whose experience and life embody all that is great in America.  After all, as a jurist, Justice Douglas has a unique place in American history so his words matter and mean so much because they come from the wealth of experience which includes serving as the longest serving member of the United States Supreme Court. The book starts with the story of Col Ata-Ullah’s “Father and the Cobra,” then discussing “Mother’s Death,” to be followed by “My loss of Faith,” and then onto “Europe” where he discovered his love for music – Mozart and other great artists. Like Justice Douglas, the reader will certainly find something to relate to. When the readers come upon the chapters discussing the disease stricken hungry and tired Polish refugees pouring into Tehran from Russia during World War II, it might help them understand the plight of the refugees in the current Syrian crisis. These chapters also reveal the glorious past when American Red Cross, US Generals and doctors along with allies medical officers like Col Ata-Ullah as well as other US governmental officers collaborated to creatively meet public health challenges and solving problems like a bread crisis in the city of Tehran. These chapters alone should convince the naysayers about the power of positive thinking and that United States is not an evil empire but a force for the good of humanity. And, the pleasant surprises like the letter from Dr. Charles Houston of the American Alpine Club - requesting Col Ata-Ullah to accompany the mountaineers - will make it hard for the readers to put the book down. These chapters will reveal what convinced towering figures like Justice Douglas and Thomas to write such glowingly about this book. In the “Korea,” chapter but also throughout the book, Col Ata-Ullah has some golden nuggets of wisdom that many Muslims can also benefit from. For instance, he wrote: “my emotional attitude to other people and distant lands comes from happy starlit evenings of my childhood through mother’s bedtime stories. These were more about everyone’s common humanity than about wars and conflicts. She never talked about the Crusades, but often talked with love and reverence about Jesus and the Hebrew prophets.” Following his retirement in 1958, Col Ata-Ullah started an engineering firm – Indus Valley Construction Company (IVCC) which continues to thrive for almost forty years after his death in 1977. Through this wonderful book – as well as his exemplary life - Col Ata-Ullah paved a shining path for citizens of different origins and faiths to search the common ground to bring out the best of humanity. The piano remained an integral part of Col Ata-Ullah’s life and the good doctor prescribed music as a therapy to connect with the soul. In doing so, he proved that faith was a pillar in support of and not an impediment to modernity. In these troubled times, this book might also serve as a reminder about what makes America such a great nation that brought together people like Justice Douglas, Lowell Thomas and Dr. Houston as friends of Col Ata-Ullah.

But it’s difficult to think about value when we have no buoy for understanding it outside our traditional lenses: for example, our time, our job, and what others tell us they are worth in cash. This, largely, is the world’s paradigm for value so far. But understanding what value really means changes everything—and will be at the center of the decentralized revolution in global coordination that will unfold over the next decade. So, where do we begin?

Let’s start with gold.

Gold is an inherent value. When backing a market, gold allows us to grow a balanced economy well into the trillions. But why does it allow for massive stable markets to form around it? It is gold's permanence that creates stability. We understand that gold will always have value, because it is inherent in all of us, not just in one part of the world, but everywhere, not just today, but tomorrow and for the long haul.

In the 1930s when the gold standard was removed, we learned that the U.S. dollar didn’t need gold to back its economy to flourish. We learned that it was just a symbol for U.S. citizens to decentralize their coordination around the United States economy.

It turns out, common agreement is a philosophy for building shared economy.

And so it seems inherent value is a marker for us to begin exploring what the future could look like—a future beyond gold and the existing realm of credit. And so what else has inherent value? Is education as valuable as gold? What about healthcare? What about a vote that can’t be tampered with? What about an ID that can’t be stolen or erased? What about access to nutrition or clean water? You will find value everywhere you look.

It turns out, we’ve already done the legwork necessary to uncover the most elemental inherent values: The Sustainable Development Goals are commitments grown out of the drive to bring to life basic tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—the closest possible social contract we have to a global, common agreement.

We’ve already agreed, as a global community, to ensure inclusive and equitable access to quality education. We’ve already agreed to empower all women and girls, to ensure pure and clean water access for all, to promote health at all stages of life, and to end hunger.

We’ve already agreed.

Our agreements are grounded in deep value centers that are globally shared, but undervalued and unfulfilled. The reason for this is our inability to quantify intangible value. All of these rich, inherent values are still nebulous and fragmented in implementation—largely existing as ideals and blueprints for deep, globally shared common agreement. That is, we all agree education, health, and equality have value, but we lack common units for understanding who and who is not contributing value—leaving us to fumble in our own, uncoordinated siloes as we chase the phantoms of impact. In essence, we lack common currencies for our common agreements.

Now we find ourselves at the nexus of the real paradigm of Blockchain, allowing us to fuse economics with inherent value by proving the participation of some great human effort, then quantifying the impact of that effort in unforgeable and decentralized ledgers. It allows us to build economic models for tomorrow, that create wholly new markets and economies for and around each of the richest of human endeavors.

In late 2017 at the height of the Bitcoin bubble, without individual coordination, planning, or the help of institutions, almost $1 trillion was infused into blockchain markets. This is remarkable, and the revolution has only just begun. When you realize that Blockchain is in a similar stage of development as the internet pre-AOL, you will see a glimpse of the global transformation to come.

Only twice in the information age have we had such a paradigm shift in global infrastructure reform—the computer and the internet. While the computer taught us how to store and process data, the Internet built off that ability and furthered the conversation by teaching us how to transfer that information. Blockchain takes another massive step forward—it builds off the internet, adding to the story of information storage and transfer—but, it teaches us a new, priceless and not yet understood skill: how to transfer value.

This third wave kicked off with a rough start—as happens with the birth of new technologies and their corresponding liberties. Blockchain has, thus far, been totally unregulated. Many, doubtless, have taken advantage. A young child, stretching their arms for the first couple times might knock over a cookie jar or two. Eventually, however, they learn to use their faculties—for evil or for good. As such, while it’s wise to be skeptical at this phase in blockchain’s evolution, it’s important not to be blind to its remarkable implications in a post-regulated world, so that we may wield its faculties like a surgeon’s scalpel—not for evil or snake-oil sales, but for the creation of more good, for the flourishing of commonwealth.

But what of the volatility in blockchain markets? People agree Bitcoin has value, but they don’t understand why they are in agreement, and so cryptomarkets fluctuate violently.  Stable blockchain economies will require new symbolic gold standards that clearly articulate why someone would agree to support each market, to anchor common agreement with stability. The more globally shared these new value standards, the better.

Is education more valuable than gold? What about healthcare or nutrition or clean water?

We set out in 2018 to prove a hypothesis—we believe that if you back a cryptocurrency economy with a globally agreed upon inherent value like education, you can solve for volatility and stabilize a mature long lasting cryptomarket that awards everyone who adds value to that market in a decentralized way without the friction of individual partnerships.

What if education was a new gold standard?

And what if this new Learning Economy had protocols to award everyone who is helping to steward the growth of global education?

Education is a mountain. Everyone takes a different path to the top. Blockchain allows us to measure all of those unique learning pathways, online and in classrooms, into immutable blockchain Learning Ledgers.

By quantifying the true value of education, a whole economy can be built around it to pay students to learn, educators to create substantive courses, and stewards to help the Learning Economy grow. It was designed to provide a decentralized way for everyone adding value to global education to coordinate around the commonwealth without the friction of individual partnerships. Imagine the same for healthcare, nutrition, and our environment?

Imagine a world where we can pay refugees to learn languages as they find themselves in foreign lands, a world where we can pay those laid off by the tide of automation to retrain themselves for the new economy, a world where we can pay the next generation to prepare themselves for the unsolved problems of tomorrow.

Imagine new commonwealth economies that alleviate the global burdens of poverty, disease, hunger, inequality, ignorance, toxic water, and joblessness. Commonwealths that orbit inherent values, upheld by immutable blockchain protocols that reward anyone in the ecosystem stewarding the economy—whether that means feeding the hungry, providing aid for the global poor, delivering mosquito nets in malaria-ridden areas, or developing transformative technologies that can provide a Harvard-class education to anyone in the world willing to learn.

These worlds are not out of reach—we are only now opening our eyes to the horizons of blockchain, decentralized coordination, and new gold standards. Even though coordination is the last of the seventeen sustainable development goals, when solved, its tide will lift for the rest—a much-needed rocket fuel for global prosperity.

“Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair.”  —George Washington
C. Naseer Ahmad
C. Naseer Ahmad is a contributor to Diplomatic Courier.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.