Journeys provide us opportunities to see things that we have not seen before. Sometimes, journeys enable us to see the same things but from newer angles and different horizons. “Journey into Europe” by Professor Akbar Ahmed is a book that is illuminating as well as vast in the landscapes and time horizons. Interestingly, my first encounter with the esteemed author actually happened at the Corner Bakery at Union Station in Washington, DC when we were both on a journey to New York. He was going to attend a dinner for then Iran’s President Khatemi and I was going to attend a dinner for then Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf. It didn’t take long to become friends because we found a common friend whom we both admired. In his latest book, Professor Akbar Ahmed first takes you to Greece and highlights the challenges of the immigrants, especially from Pakistan, who are not only facing economic hardships but sometimes also mistreatment. He notes the condition of the mosque where they pray. Traveling through different countries, the author provides historical as well as contemporary information. He describes philosophical and cultural issues informing the reader about what transpired and why some things are the way we find them happening or reported in the news. Navigating through the pages, the reader learns about the team effort that went into this project, through the narration of the stories and very interesting pictures with the people whom the team met in their travels. From the three different parts of the book, the reader will understand the European identity based on European history and culture. Then one will learn about ethnography and the three different types of Muslim societies: immigrants, native or indigenous and converts—existing in different parts of Europe. In the final chapter, the author examines the predatory rhetoric of ethnic hate that is now sweeping across Europe.  The author, however, does not dwell on the past but instead suggests “how Europe can forge a new identity” with a “vision of a New Andalusia that could be a beacon of moral and intellectual leadership to inspire the world.” From this remarkable book, the reader will visit different mosques—from Spain to the British Isles then Scandinavia and Germany—across Europe and get to know people who represent the hopes and future for the Muslims living in Europe. I appreciate the author’s commentary on the “Ahmadi Experience in Germany” because I belong to this community and I have visited Germany several times and met many of the people mentioned in the book. There are some interesting quotes that are applicable to all Muslim communities in Europe and support the hopeful vision espoused by the author. The reader will find on Page 235, “when asked to define German identity, Imam Arif replied ‘we consider ourselves German Ahmadi Muslims. We speak the language, we have grown up here…our second generation is not closer to any other nation than Germany. There is a saying of the Holy Prophet, the love for your country is part of your faith and we live that.’” One of the most touching stories is about Bashy Quraishy—a minority rights activist in Denmark and author of “From Punjab to Copenhagen.” Quraishy was estranged from his family and to reach him, his mother wrote to the Queen of Denmark. In response, the Queen sent the Chief of Police with a pad and a golden pen to find him and make him write a letter to his mother. His letter was then sent from the Queen’s palace to Quraishy’s mom. Quraishy’s story is also something that I can relate to because I have extended family members who have traveled from Punjab to Copenhagen. In fact, I visited them not long ago and admire my cousin Sibat Ahmad and her four wonderful children. Through education and hard work they have become productive members of Danish Society instead of depending upon public welfare—a fear leveled against, particularly Muslim, immigrants. It is something that I took pride in my own journey into Europe. The reader will find many more interesting stories in this beautiful book that will be educating as well as informative. The education journey across Europe through the eyes and the pen of Professor Akbar Ahmed will be unforgettable just like my first journey with the author on a train to New York shortly after 9/11.

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.