The Winners and Losers of 2016 and Our Future

I’m beginning to think We the People are the real losers in the 2016 election cycle – not the candidates. The real winners are those whose causes or fortunes are advanced by division within the American people.

Consider how much we hear that the political system in the USA is completely and utterly broken, how crime and indecency are out of control, how we’re all basically screwed. We hear this over and over from nearly everyone. Once the snowball of these statements gets rolling, nearly everyone gets in the act, repeating, embellishing, adding to the narrative.

Consider the possibility that this is mostly inaccurate. We’re not all raving lunatics of the right or left, nor are we all racists, religious nuts, or genitalia grabbers. The giant majority of people in this country and this world are all basically just trying to live their lives, raise their children, stay alive, and do what is right.

Since nearly all of us are consumers, voters, donors we have a few things in common. First, getting us excited about things makes it easier to get our attention and keep it. Second, having our attention and our biases tuned to whatever direction of excitement got to us, we’re easy to sell to. Third, as biased consumers we’re vulnerable to paranoid, inaccurate, divisive statements just add fuel to the already hot flames of our excited, biased, consumerist passions.

As such, we buy products, we tune into TV shows, we consume various other media, and we vote based on these warped views of the world. The world didn’t suddenly get to be evil in the last 100 years, yet we’re strongly disposed to believe this. In fact, the world of today is much fairer, richer, safer, and more full of human kindness than it has ever been in all of human history. But few people actually realize this is true because we have so many sources of “information” that feed our belief that it is not.

Why? Because candidates, media sources, marketers of products, and even our one or two weirdo neighbors benefit from feeding the belief that we’re all going to hell in a hand basket – and soon.

Gene Roddenberry's Vision of a Positive FutureIt’s time for the consumers, voters, parents, educators, and thought leaders of our world to see this for what it is: A façade that nearly everyone has fallen for, leading to diminishment of our lives for no reason.

Gene Roddenberry, well-known creator of Star Trek and visionary but imperfect human, died 25 years ago on October 24, 1991. I believe he would see our modern world as many steps closer to his vision of the future. Sure, he’d see things that are wrong – we all do. But we’re way, way better off than we were when Gene started all of this in the 1960s.

Gene Roddenberry, visionary. 1921 - 1971.

Gene Roddenberry, visionary. 1921 – 1971.

Gene, we miss your genius.

Space Will Save Us

Future EarthIt’s not about wanting to go individually. It’s about running out of ideas about how to expand the human race, running out of energy and resources, and generally needing a new frontier to expand into. We’re stagnating as a civilization.

Space is full of things we need both for up there and down here: energy, metals, water, air, organics, heat, cold, vacuum, zero-G. We can bring a lot of new wealth to us down here and we do a lot up there that isn’t easy here. But it’s more important than resources.

We need a place for the wild wild west to play out over and over. We need to try new ideas in government and society. Down here it’s too easy for these experiments to be swamped by external influences before anything useful is learned. People are too “comfortable” in the sense of “comfort zones”. We need to shove a bunch of people into a new pool and make them swim or die, honestly. It’s what we’re FOR as a species, and it’s what we’re good at. We’re wasting our intrinsic talents down here and we’re wasting away because of it.

Think about this. The population is thousand times or a million times what it was in the time of the original discoverers of most of our basic understanding of government, society, the physical world, human discourse, law, mathematics, and many other subjects. We have, therefore, thousands or millions of geniuses to those eras’ one. Why aren’t we making fundamental progress on such things?

We’re limited by our comfort zones. Capitalism, while powerful and definitely most of the reason we’re all here and alive and eating and housed today, isn’t the last word in solutions to the problems it was evolved to solve. Nor is democracy. Nor socialism, nor Christianity, nor Buddhism, nor Islam, nor American way of doing things, nor are lots of things.

Nobody is trying anymore. Because the cost of trying is just way too high. Natural selection, natural experimentation, evolution – they’ve all stopped in the world of ideas. That is, until there is a crisis or a war or a disaster. Then we might dabble a bit to fix what we think might have been the cause or recover from the devastation. But we don’t have to fix things most of the time.

What’s in a Name? Everything Important!

roseLong ago, before I knew much of anything, I tried writing a short story where each character was unnamed. I called them things like “Mr. X” and “Young S” – thinking they would reveal their names and personalities and history as I went along. This didn’t work at all.

In fact, precisely the opposite: I couldn’t “go along” writing without having met the characters. Once I realized this, I started over and took the time to build up the people beforehand.

Of course anyone who has written very much will recognize this as a “Duh!” realization. But in my naive charioteering I had put the cart before the horse.

I just caught myself doing this same thing again just now in another story. But in this case the character I was leaving unnamed was an entire civilization and star system. Finally, with a sense of déjà vu, I realized why I couldn’t continue.

So now I have a star these people come from – a binary star near Sol. And as a bonus I’ve taken the opportunity to invent an entirely new way a civilization might arise in such a place. The people of this civilization are coalescing out of the mists of my imagination and I can now proceed.

I suppose I’m a proper idiot for having to learn this lesson twice when most writers, using some writerly instinct that I lack, would never gone this way in the first place.