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.

The Declaration of American Independence

The real glory of the declaration of independence has been our nation’s epic struggle throughout history to close the gap between the ideals of this remarkable document and the sometimes painful realities of American life. The Declaration symbolizes the birth of our nation, of course, but also of the constant struggle to achieve its ideals.
flagThose words from  a famous, educated, wealthy, articulate, and free black American citizen – Morgan Freeman – while standing in Independence Hall in Philadelphia on the occasion of the celebration of Independence Day. They explain why slavery, sexism, and other inequities are to be found in American society and in its history, in seeming opposition to our idealistic Declaration of Independence.
 
Our story as a nation continues. Happy Independence Day.

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.

A Positive Vision of the Future

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“Hope over despair” indeed.

It’s exhausting to see people I respect wasting their time arguing about whether global warming is caused by mankind, or even whether global warming is real. Or to hear them arguing about which religion has a better set of values for people to live by or which one is the one their country is based upon.

The fact is that if we want to survive and live happily and successfully in the long run we must stop such idiotic bickering and make some changes. Our population growth and our way of feeding, housing, energizing, and transporting that population is simply unsustainable in the long run – regardless of whether population stays the same or grows or even shrinks a little. We’re absolutely doomed if we don’t change our ways of living.

But I said this was a positive vision. Ahem.

The positive outlook for humanity is clear. We must reduce the impact on our environment made by the processes of human life even while we enhance the quality of that life. We’re definitely making progress on both fronts.

Can we avoid Armageddon? Of course we can. Biblical and other religious and doomsayers’ predictions have a consistent habit of proving to be completely wrong.

But we must change our ways. The article linked from the photo above has a lot of hope to offer for ways we can and will change.

Dystopian Futures Not Helpful

This article lists “26 essential science fiction novels to get you ready for tomorrow”.

As has become heartbreakingly typical lately, these are nearly all dystopian views of the future. What we desperately need as a society is to see “Wow, it’s lucky for us brilliant Dr. Greefel Burblatts invented the polygorphal exgraminator to avoid the global warming disaster we were headed for” and the joyful future that follows.

The age of plenty, ubiquitous computing, millions of educated and well fed geniuses alive today, space travel and exploration, wonderful gadgets and architecture and art forms – these are all things we can imagine and look forward to. We have already a great surplus of dark tales to warn us of the dangers of the future.

Why not stories that help us to prepare for what could be if only we will imagine and then achieve what is possible in a positive universe?