160.       The future isn’t what it used to be

I remember the future I was promised so long ago. There would be flying cars, and Dick Tracey watches that allowed you to communicate by speaking into your wrist. We got the Dick Tracey watches (cellphones), but not the flying cars or personal jet packs. Nor did we get colonies in space or universal plenty. But we got other stuff that nobody predicted.

We got a climate crisis and degradation of the environment: wildfires, floods, and famine. And a pandemic. And, so far from universal plenty, it seems we don’t have enough truck drivers to guarantee food delivery to the shops, or enough carers to look after the frail and elderly.

It would be easy to be scared. Apocalypse novels sell by the thousands. There’s a lot around that’s scarey. But perhaps there always has been. A generation ago, we were terrified by the threat of nuclear annihilation. And we survived. A generation before that, there was the World War to defend civilization. And a generation before that, the War to End All Wars. There was a pandemic in that generation too.

Yet, we survived. To survive now we need to be able to re-imagine a future we want to live in. Because crises don’t just go away by themselves—we have to want a change and work for it. A world without the vested interests of big oil and the snooping of big tech. Clean cheap energy. Food, shelter and a meaningful life for everyone. That seems worth working for, and it’s within our grasp. What would be the path towards that? Perhaps we need story-tellers to help us visualize that future.

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