By David Snyder
One of the great joys of Today, thanks to its endless splendors, is to be able to sit quietly, thinking of what Tomorrow might bring. It’s hard to know! The thing of the moment is any number of ways to achieve a virtual reality. Zuckerberg is in on this. Gates is in on this. The Valley is certainly in on this. The thing isn’t for me. I plan on enjoying my reality through perilously smudged specs, not a great lug keeping me from seeing new cracks in the sidewalk.
Tomorrow is altogether indifferent to what I have to say about one of its children, so I’ll drop the matter there. But what of the rest of our future? What will the next Depression bring? The next World War? Do we have disease on the mat, getting closer and closer to 10? Is Moore’s Law calling it a night? I haven’t the slightest, as is the norm.
To my mind, sovereignty is the greatest threat to Tomorrow. If the world wars and the formation of the United Nation and the European Union should’ve taught us anything, it’s that a little political and national slack is an easy way to save a million or two lives. At any rate, the world remains a cluster of sovereign states, constantly squabbling with one another over so so trade deals and weak military spending. Just look at the United Kingdom, one of the great pillars of the past 500 years. Having engineered two victories in two world wars and shaped Western relations for centuries, the old Lion has up and left the EU, as though nobody remembered why the thing was put on in the first place — to spare Tomorrow the horrors of Yesterday. But so goes the tides of nationalism. Perhaps I’m a hopeless idealist, and I’m sure I am, but I still believe in the United Nations charter.
“We the people of the United Nations have determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom…”
Just the tonic.
There are plenty of soothsayers predicting doom and gloom for the long haul, as is only natural. Humanity wouldn’t have made it this far without a little trepidation about the future and its security, if with a touch for the dramatic. I’m not one of that mind, thank god, so my view of the next century is full of a bit more pep in everybody’s step. The many mysteries of the Higgs-Boson will be unraveled, allowing another layer of the onion to be revealed. The great work of the scores of medical and infrastructure ventures in Africa, and soon to be the Middle East, will help to banish the worst diseases and put a little change in the pocket of the world’s worst treated peoples. Men and women will be stretching their legs on the warm dunes of Mars. Every man, woman, and child will be allowed all of the world’s known history with the total democratization of the web. The United State may carry a little less of a big stick, if we’re lucky.
The stock market may very well crash later today; Putin might forget to take his nice pills, introducing total warfare to a generation sheltered from all that. Any one of the rising pseudo-fascist stars in Europe may grab the reigns of his or her country.
While Tomorrow may be as bad as all of the sour oracles predict, it’s unknowable. Therefore, I take comfort in the knowledge that the arc of human progress is log and bends toward leisure. With a little more down time and a little more intellectual capital to throw around, maybe the world’s collected brilliance, its artists, theorists, teachers, scientists, and architects, can engineer a better future: one not void of squabbles, for neighbors always joust over a borrowed gas can or a an unkept patch of lawn, but full of hope and well taken care of Pitbulls.