This article has also been translated in Norwegian by Harald Olsen (Vår største avhengighet er ikke mat og medisin, men fortiden)
Every day, the news gets more challenging, but also more interesting. Everything is collapsing: the environment is erupting with fires and floods, the COVID virus with its variants ravages the planet, Afghanistan is, once again, showing us the absurdity of war, and the ineptness and short-sightedness of those in power becomes more and more apparent.
The current system of beliefs can’t deliver solutions in the present moment. We are facing a new moment, of a totally new dimension. We lack the right rulers to address these phenomena, as everything is being looked at with old glasses. We are stuck in the past, without a vision of the future.
Examples of this abound. When a vaccine for COVID-19 was produced in less than a year, some people were suspicious, saying “before it took 10 years to get one.” They could not recognize how progress can be made.
The war in Afghanistan didn’t bring democracy to that country. Did that lead to us to ask ourselves about the efficacy of this strange concept of war? No.
The war on drugs in the US didn’t reduce the consummation of drugs. In 2001, Portugal became the first European country to abolish all criminal penalties for personal drug possession, providing addicts with therapy rather than prison sentences. The result: drug use lowered and deaths from overdose were also reduced. Has this lead to replication of the model?
When China reduced poverty for 800 million people over the past 30 years, did anyone really study how it was done? Are we really interested in eliminating poverty? Loans from the World Bank have never worked, but we still keep pressuring countries to take them.
Progressives keep talking of workers as if it were the 19th century, without realizing that the “workers” they are talking about voted for Donald Trump and don’t want to hear anything about class struggle. In South America they are either looking at the U.S. as a source of aspiring model or to a Bolivarian nostalgia, as in the US, politicians run on a platform of creating more jobs. Why are they not promoting automation instead, to free us from meaningless activities?
The issue of climate change is also coming from the past. 40 years ago, people were proposing renewable energy, but who listened to them? Not too many! Imagine if we had spent four decades working on the development of alternative energy, plastic substitutes, green transportation, etc. The people who proposed these alternatives where marginalized and diminished by the intelligencia of that time. This missed opportunity will make the lives of millions much more difficult and sap precious resources.
Everything is about repeating the past, even if it doesn’t make any sense, even if it’s absolutely irrational. We are addicted to where we are coming from, instead of where we are going.
The future is not about being positive or negative. It is not about “everything is going to be fine.” The future is a process, with tendencies that we can see and predict. Some things will keep growing and developing, others will disappear. Technological development, for example will continue, while the relationship between work and money, however, will get each day more complicated. Life expectancy for people born in this part of the world today will rise to 150 years. What impact will that have on an institution like marriage? Female empowerment will go far beyond our current idea of feminism. National boundaries will fade away, cars within cities will disappear. A.I. will translate languages simultaneously with a high level of accuracy. Wearable technology combine with A.I. will save lives and help diagnose health issues early, avoiding the need for many forms of surgery.
Today religions are playing the past card, with their millennial transcripts, they play with people’s heads and engage followers to become political activists and violent militias. We have to stop justifying our present position based on past writing or nostalgic memories.
Even therapists and wellness counselors are caught there, justifying present suffering by connecting it to past “traumas.” They avoid the real discussion with patients: how do we have a meaningful life in this crazy world? Of course it’s easier to make someone reconnect to something that happened decades ago by recalling some part of that story. The illusion of going back to get revenge is fed. The only solution is to reconcile by adding comprehension to that “memory,” and imaging a different future for yourself. There is not shortcut.
Our challenge in this moment is to create a vision that we could all share and to explain it in common sense terms. We need to use our minds to imagine a powerful new future for humanity. There are some very impressive demonstrations happening of this new thinking; we need to recognize them and build upon them to form an image that will point us in a new direction.
Imagine a political party that, instead of creating a “jobs” platform, will be dedicated to creating a society where people live meaningful lives. Imagine a religion that will promote the idea that humans are transforming beings, with unlimited possibility and choices. Imagine having a job that allows you to contribute to society while also developing your knowledge and qualities. Image if the goal of a country was to make sure that all other countries are doing well. Imagine if the function of a family was to develop love for humanity and to care for children who will keep the light of the future alive. Just imagine.