Chapter Twenty Seven
When I was growing up in Britain, during the nineteen sixties and seventies, I was quite fascinated by books, many of which had belonged to my mother and uncle when they were young. The books were from the fifties and early sixties, and some were illustrated with visions of the future. Their pages sported illustrations of high speed cars, trains and planes, space flight, and robots taking care of the mundane, with everyone smiling in the images predicting an exciting future awaiting the reader.
At that time, a thriving consumerism had developed in response to the frugality of wartime. Construction and wealth rose from the ashes of destruction and poverty, and it seemed the world had entered a new era, with a new philosophy of living. The Hippie movement began to spread its message of love and peace, and for a brief, historical moment, humankind hoped we might learn to live together in perfect, peaceful harmony.
Yet; the planet’s political climate, with events such as the Vietnam war, and an escalating arms race between the Communist East and Capitalist West, dragged the warmth of chance into the cool of the shade. The enthusiasm with which construction began dwindled, since constructing something that would exist under the constant threat of destruction dampened the spirit of creation. It soon became clear the Second World War was not a war to end all wars, but a catalyst for all wars to come, of which there may only be one, since it became increasingly evident a Third World War would be a nuclear holocaust; an armageddon, with the power to destroy the entire planet.
An air of woeful resignation began to develop as a result of this realisation, which has drifted, during the passage of time – while gathering an increasing sense of doom – to engulf our consciousness of the present. The stench of discontent has worsened considerably now it has been understood our advance has left the planet in grave danger of an untimely demise through climate change; so there are two man-made phenomena threatening our existence.
I did not see artists’ impressions of the nuclear warheads of tomorrow, within my mother’s and uncle’s books, or any other anticipated development in weaponry technology. The vision of the future seemed breathtakingly exciting, with the unspoken promise it would manifest within a peaceful, harmonious world. It seemed all that was deemed negative and contrary to the spirit of the times, such as global warfare, was ignored; perhaps with the hope it would simply vanish, to leave a world where humankind’s splendid dreams may manifest.
Maybe the spirit of the times would have been dampened all the sooner, if such scientific advances would have been offered for the contemplation of the young adults of the day. But it was not, so humankind experienced a moment of hope; a glimpse into a bright, fascinating future.
And now, the vision of the future we offer the planet’s youth is not a wonderful, new world, where robots perform tasks tedious, to leave everyone with more time to live peaceful, harmonious lives. The future is upon us. It is now, and beyond a year of tomorrows is a realm of existence few wish to contemplate, and those who do are filled with a sense of woeful uncertainty. The robots are already here, but it seems they have done little or nothing to ease the struggles of existence. The future seems to be the promise of more entertainment; more games to play – more to amuse us; to take our minds off everything we would rather not think about.
There is no universal vision of the future as there once was. We do not advance towards a destination with enthusiasm, but rather exist within time – an eternal present – while hoping possible future horrors do not occur, such as climate change or a nuclear holocaust, with both destructive scenarios the creations of humankind, so all it would take is human effort to eradicate them.
Even though we do not have a destination in mind, the world seems obsessed with ‘economic growth’, as if the growth might result in something that will have grown to its full potential. Yet; since there is no vision of the future, growth seems indefinite, and if it should be cut off short, for some reason or another, the destination would not vanish because there isn’t one. This global civilisation would simply stop growing; that is all. Nothing more than a hideous enigma; if one were to use logic to determine what it wished to become once it had grown. And it is worthwhile considering the colossal irony; the global economy cannot grow indefinitely on a planet with limited resources, and choking to death on the pollution the use of those resources create.
Perhaps it is time to contemplate the farce of our existence, in depth, and wonder why humankind have worked so hard to reach this point, for who would wish to create such a world? Or maybe there has not been a blueprint for global civilisation; but who builds something with no purpose in mind?
Of course; if humankind have been striving to create an unfair, imbalanced global civilisation, where half of the planet lives in poverty, and the other half in relative affluence, with peace maintained by the constant threat of a colossal, planet-destroying war, then humankind have succeeded in creating that which we wished to create. However; to wish to create such a monstrosity is beyond sound reasoning; it can only be the consequence of advancing without intent, or one which should have been questioned long ago.
Since no one really knows where we are heading, silence envelops our advance. We travel through time as though standing on a conveyor belt, which spills from the machinery of the past, with no one keen to race ahead to see where it is taking us. We only hope it leads to a glorious, yet unknown destination, despite an ever increasing amount of evidence which suggests it is taking us into the pits of hell – a hell a minority design, and the majority create, without pausing to consider the purpose of their creation, and the intent of those responsible for the design.