Monday, January 15, 2018

some are left unfinished




It's kind of funny to consider the fact that our species, Homo Sapiens Sapiens, is roughly three hundred thousand years old, and possibly even older if recent discoveries are true. Yet for all but the last three centuries of that span, predicting the future was fairly easy: other than natural disasters, everyday life in fifty years time would resemble everyday life fifty years ago. For 99% of human existence, the future was static (or so we're told). Then something happened, and the future began to change, increasingly rapidly, until we get to the present day when things are moving so fast that it's barely possible to anticipate trends from month to month.

Of course it's easy to romanticize the past - largely because many of us are able to remember our own. Life was perfect when I was a child even though I know I recall it imperfectly and the same goes for those more recent past decades. When I was young I romanticized the future.  Now it frightens me - not so much for the fact that there's only just so much time allowed to me personally, but because our race in recent history has caused and continues to cause such damage to our biosphere. The planet will continue, no doubt of that, but so much of what makes our lives beautiful is at risk.

I like to imagine a more equitable future for us and all the other species with whom we share the world. Yet I dare not envision some particular utopia - a word that translates from the Greek as 'no place' - but simply to hope for a larger world less driven by greed. I know things were different once and perhaps they can be again.

The fact that there is a highway to Hell and only a stairway to Heaven says a lot about the anticipated traffic numbers.
~ Anon

 

15 comments:

Ol'Buzzard said...

Future Shock was premised that humans could not adapt to rapid change - Toffler got that wrong. We, as a race, have brought every animal on the earth to near extinction and we doing the same for ourselves at break neck speed. The earth would be better off without us. The human race is just a passing spot in earth history.
the Ol'Buzzard

susan said...

I remember a friend once saying that humanity's mark in the geologic record would be a little strip of plastic between much larger layers.

marja-leena said...

Lovely drawing, Susan, so full of the good life. Too bad the truth isn't quite so pretty. Thank you for keeping us entertained and informed, unlike this slacker who lost her blogging mojo.

troutbirder said...

Fortunate to teach social studies in a relatively small rural town and district and a principal who supported my theories of making those classes and history less "boring" as long as we could meet the States abstract guidelines. Thus quarter courses like Poverty, Being Human, Economic Development, Communism, and Future Shock based on Tofflers book of the same name. Yes we had fun as I often got to role play. As a friend of Ben Franklin visiting their classroom in wonderment and asking the to explain what a "microwave oven" was and how it worked...:) I remain optimistic that the three generation I helped in a small way will adapt change where needed and the current follies in Washington will be overcome. Perhaps even a peaceful revolution which has already begun. And America will be a beacon of light and hope in a troubled world...:)

susan said...

Thanks, Marja-Leena. It's always so nice to see you've been by to visit and a relief this time to know you're well. While I understand your having lost the urge to blog I do miss reading your updates.

susan said...

It seems to me your students were very lucky to have had you as a teacher for so long, Ray. Three generations! That's an amazing accomplishment as was your vision in finding ways to promote their understanding of complex issues. What a great way of approaching your lessons.

I do sincerely hope things will get better and be better for us and our future generations.

Lindsay Byrnes said...

hi Susan
Lovely picture with the usual intricate detail. I do like the points made by by the Troubirder as it is indeed the next generation we must entrust our faith that they will do much better than us and our ancestors, armed with more understanding and that all important Imagination. That growing awarness, I suggest, is spreading in schools and even in business courses. Of course there is always the other side of the coiin, but on balance I think there is grounds to be more optimistic. In that respect we owe a debt of gratitude to the army of teachers , despite being starved of resources by some authorities, who help shape young minds and usher in the new era that potentially could far outweigh the woes of the present. For one imagines so called modern man , about 300 k setting out on those massive migratory journeys as language and sense of self fist emegered? That advantage, and as we slowly become dependant on crude technology so we grew in number.it seems about 150 was the optimum size of a tribe , to weld together a mutual advantage over other species and use that knowledge rather than strength. To day the barrage of news we see, almost simultaneously is unatural and prone to make us justifiably overly pessimistic.
Now that greatly enhanced technology gives us the best chance of discovery throughout climatic modelling , what new journey in life we must now begin.
Best wishes

susan said...

Hi Lindsay,
As ever, many thanks for your compliment.
Yes, we can hope that generations who come after us will do better and if they do it will be many thanks due to Troutbirder and all the dedicated teachers of his ilk. It would have been nice if the 'authorities' had been somewhat more generous, however.
It seems to me we hang on the horns of a great dilemma. While science and technology are of amazing benefit nobody ever stops to question the possible downsides of our inventions. The biggest problems we face as I understand these things is that while most people would be amenable to mutually beneficial solutions our institutions ie, gov't, corporate, military prefer to maintain their own power bases. Things could improve, no doubt, and some definitely are, but whether we can change for the better fast enough to make a difference is not as likely as I might wish.
All the best

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

Sometimes the good thing about the future seems to be that we will not have to witness too much of it. A few brief glimpses now and then might be nice though, or interesting, at least. Sadly I doubt that can be arranged.

susan said...

It's true we won't have to witness much more of it, Andrew, but I feel anguish for those we shall leave behind - besides the people we care for personally, I mean.

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Things don't look that cash hot but here is another side of the news https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/15/business/dealbook/blackrock-laurence-fink-letter.html
Of course CSR (corporate social responsibility) must be more than just a glint in the eye. But from the hundreds of reports I read every year that allow me to hopefully be a better voluntary tutor at the University of the 3rd Age I helped to establish, you see already a marked contrast to that which existed 10 or 20 or indeed in any prior period. That will only gather steam, as you see from the article.
On a much broader scale in TIME magazine a few week's back we have by any measure known to man a much better accelerating improvement in all areas which concern humanity. Of course we can be very concerned for our next generation, but let's at least take notice of what is emerging as much better position than has ever existed in any prior periods, notwithstanding pockets of past enlightenment.
Best wishes

susan said...

Hi Lindsay,
Sometimes I get the feeling you hope to convince me into optimism by sheer force of will. Believe me, I have every respect for what you do and the efforts you expend toward making the world a better place. Nevertheless, I have a hard time taking something like Laurence Fink's newly discovered altruism seriously; the reason this story made it to the NYTimes is because it's unusual and the concept of 'corporate social responsibility' itself seems to me to be a contradiction. I think people in positions of great power are showing just how worried they are about the disparities they've gone a long way to having made.
I agree with you that we can do better and that there are forces in play that could prove beneficial in time. I promise to write about some of those a bit more often. In the meantime I'm afraid there is far worse to come before things get better, if they ever do for us as a species. No, that's wrong. I think as a species we'll likely go on for a long time mostly because there are a number of people in the world who have learned to survive on a small scale. Our industrial-technological society, however, is in trouble no matter what the mainstream media may be saying. They don't get paid to be downbeat.
I'm happy you are one of the people not only willing to see the upside but to make a positive difference.
All the best

susan said...

Hi again Lindsay,
You might be interested in reading an article I enjoyed a few days ago.
Take care

troutbirder said...

Well yes as a regular reader of The Nation I'm not a bit surprised. My blog profile declaring my conversion to "yellow dog" Democrat is wavering considerable toward a pink rose which may be blushing toward a darker red. A blogging "Trucker" friend of mine Bubba Muntzer is gradually facilitating my skepticism of Democrats alliance with Wall Street and the absence of the word "unions" in any of their speeches...:(

susan said...

Talking is a good thing. The enormous, currently almost intractable, problem in the West right now (and maybe everywhere) is that people can't seem to communicate about real issues without feeling as though they are being personally attacked.

As for the Democrats: Today’s Democratic Party relies on big corporations, especially big Wall Street investment banks, for campaign donations. The old alliance between the party and labor unions is dead. Democrats support trade deals that hurt American workers. When the economy tanked at the end of the last decade, President Obama left laid-off workers and foreclosed-upon homeowners twisting in the wind; he bailed out the banks instead. Hillary Clinton, who supported the TPP trade deal before she was against it, promised bankers she’d their friend if she won. Whatever the Democrats are now, they’re not the party of working Americans.

It's good people are paying attention. :)