FIRST DAY OF JANUARY 2020
Aloha and Happy New Year!
The year 2020 has a special significance for me. Since the early 1950’s I have pondered the possibilities this date might bring. Back then, when I was a great deal more naive, I believed people were the only reliable resource that people could depend on. To my mind human kind was at the mercy or whim of a myriad of ‘blind forces.’ For we faced threats from earthquakes to volcanoes; from plagues to parasites; or from floods to forest fires. And other hazards, such as from locusts or parasites; wolves or quicksand; even disease or drought.
I was sure that human thought must be dedicated to assuring that human existence was our priority. Since it was clear we had to protect ourselves from an often hostile environment. And I believed we would do that without question. So as I looked to the future, from a time before computers, or color television; I imagined many positive possibilities. For I saw a world to come where we systematically eliminated diseases around the Earth; to protect our species from extinction.
I saw a world where people managed the planet’s resources cooperatively, for our mutual benefit. So that these assets will always yield a benefit to our common survival while still being effectively maintained. As my imaginings turned to consider the year 2020, my expectations were just as optimistic. I speculated that by then our country would be technologically advanced enough to declare 2020 the “year of perfect sight.” And make sure every American citizen had at least 20/20 vision.
I even supposed that by the year 2020, there would be settlements of people on both Luna and Mars. As doing so would improve our chances for human survival. But while pondered these ideas, other things were happening which I did not fully consider. Such as the nature and power of human self-interest. And how that unrestrained self-interest would divide groups of people rather than bring them together. Or how much the Earth itself would be changed due to this discord, over the years ahead.
Nor did I envision the unexpected challenges of some scientific discoveries we’ve made. Like the man-made development and rise of the marvel we now call plastic. Once considered a great benefit, it is now viewed by many as a dangerous toxin; which threatens our survival. Or the radical loss of a range of animal species around the planet; and how these losses disturbs the world’s food chain. Or the temperature increase of our oceans; and its effect on coral and marine life. As well as the increasing levels of pollution that are in the atmosphere today.
Which leads to acid rain and acid soil. Along with the loss of woods and rain forests, throughout the world. As well as compromised sources of safe drinking water. Which in turn threatens the viability of our food supplies. This creates additional effort and expense to staying alive. It also harms the quality of life for everyone impacted. And it generates suspicion and doubt in large groups of the society; who no longer trust that their government is being truthful about the treatment of its citizens, or have concern for their interests.
Further, that suspicion fuels more mistrust. Which people have for anyone with whom they have no commonality; or connection. For when there is no common reference or agreed upon set of values with each other; it is natural to have caution, doubt, and misgivings. Not withstanding any legitimate differences of opinion or viewpoint; above or beyond that initial mistrust. This often creates barriers to resolving issues between different groups of people. Which weakens our effectiveness for getting things done.
Although I did not appreciate the complexities of human interactions at the time; I have learned to respect them. Because I realize now that our growth and survival must come from a blend of human beliefs, goals and desires. Yet as I consider today’s challenges, concerns; and drives, I can’t help wondering what we will do with the next fifty years. I have little doubt that technology will continue to advance, driven by human curiosity. And though some outcomes are likely; most will no doubt be unexpected.
But now, instead of merely pondering the next innovative advances (which I do); I find myself wondering what common values our societies will eventually adopt. Because that will be the true determiner of what we strive to be; as well as what we achieve. For we are forging the marvels of our future with today’s decisions. Those choices will open the way for one set of possibilities; and rule out many others. And set the path humanity travels. As I still believe that humanity’s best tool for our survival, is people cooperating with people.
2020 may not have self-flying cars or undersea cities; nor perfect health and vision for the general population. Yet these goals or many different others are within our reach. If we choose to reach for them. We need only to remember that day by day, as we make our way; the choice is ours, and it is always with us. When enough of us reach a mutual understanding about what we share in common. And which goals we agree are worth pursuing, rather than focusing on the one’s we don’t.
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J. A. Stubbs, Editor-In-Chief
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