|Artist rendition of future cities by Gary Tonge|
I've just gorged myself on a raft of books about the future; The World in 2050, The Great Reset, Crawling from the Wreckage, and The Post-American World. All excellent reads. All a bit unnerving.
The utopians have us flying to floating gardens in Jetson flying cars. The dystopians claim Big Brother will steal our memories. The catastrophe-crowd, soaked with doom, imagine a Mayan apocalypse.
[I must admit, whenever I hear apocalypse stories I'm reminded of Pulitzer winner Chris Hedges observation: "We are in the throws of a giddy intoxication with illusion. That's how you end up with demagogues and tyrants who promise magic."]
Here's the thing - the future isn't here yet! There is no Matrix. And until some giddy, Daisy-singing, Hal 9000 computer takes over, there is no sure way to know the future. There are many futures and any one of them is possible.
Lately, though, I admit I've been swayed by the dystopians.
Consider these worrying trends:
- A recent survey finding that Americans are "three times more likely to say that the quality of life in their communities has gotten worse (35%) rather than better (12%) in the last three years."
- A New York Times story: "In Philadelphia roving gangs of black teenagers have taken to beating up ordinary citizens on the streets" leading to curfews and harsher police measures.
- A radical increase in homelessness and bans against panhandling.