As life unfolds day to day, week by week the changes are impossibly small, so small you don’t realise the change at all, but lately I have been aware that I am now living in the future, no I don’t wear a off white one piece jump suit (a.la) Star Trek or 2001 (A Space Odyssey), but things have changed, my early years were spent in the 60’s & 70’s, with still a connection to the war years, my parents experienced their change, TV from Radio, First to Fly, so on…but for us, it has been more dramatic, a wholesale maddening rush to the SiFi visions of even futurists have failed to grasp.
But one day I realised I did live in a different world, most comparisons here will be with the very early seventies, A time of change in their own right, The 60’s were more social and political than lifestyle, in fact a lot of people don’t really remember that period at all, But the real change started to occur through the 70’s, expanded through the 80’s, and with the economic boom of the 90’s it really got going, America was the driving course, sheer numbers allowed them to expand and take advantage of the cooling of the Cold War, but since the turn of the century there has been other factors, that of the rising of the power of Asia, and the re-emergence of an united Europe finally throwing off the debt of the War years.
But without doubt the real change has been created by the digital revolution, as huge a change as in the Victorian Industrial revolution, it has created a vastly different world, in a vastly shorter time, It has been an exciting period to live through, The so called Global Village is now a reality, and the Internet has changed totally our preconception of distance, Flying also, its not that we could travel quickly in the 60’s its the cost, you can travel half way round the world for a thousand dollars and with low cost International air travel now available it will cost even less, our cost of living has gone up but so has our wages so we now have more for less.
So you stand now in a world of instant communication, from a handset you can call and see someone from another part of the planet, instant information, maps, addresses, any thought you want answered is just a few clicks away, we have seen products rise and die, VHS Video, Television, Compact Cassette, Compact Disk, great ideas already dead, our vehicles are so reliable they are thrown away when slightly broken, as is our Washing machines and almost all modern appliances, cheaper to junk than repair, we buy for the sake of buying not need, our buildings are erected and furnished almost by themselves, we have thousands (If not millions) of choices of holidays, material goods, food, clothes, activities, so much that its totally overwhelming, so is our futuristic world a better place to live?
Its a real hard question to answer, but I would say no, but its things that can be changed so there is always hope it will get better, of course it could get worse, and it will if we are not aware of the problems, and that’s the thing that really worries me the most, we are not learning from our faults and mistakes, if any modern problem is rampant it is that, we say we do but our actions say differently, we are not heading the warnings, and we have to before it is to late, and the biggest change to change has to come from ourselves……so what are the problems, I can’t list all of them but I will trying to be generalistic, and if it has some comparisons to the past then that is not saying it was nirvana and better back then because it wasn’t, its just to outline what could be better and different.
Advertising has failed, yes it will sell you a new car or show the specials down at the local supermarket, but at everything else it has failed, more young people smoke today than your parents did!, more young people die in accidents than any other time in our history (except wars), and yet the graphic evidence is for all to see, every night on television, Internet so on, why is this, education is mean’t to save lives not expand them, but for all our statistics, campaigns and advertising and shear money the statistics still go up, road deaths, pool drownings, sea drownings, people still even when hit over the head with commonsense, Still do very stupid and inconceivable acts to themselves and to other people, are they dumb, no, are they blind to the consequences, no, but they not only do it they brag about how stupid they are, show how stupid they are, even by killing or maiming others in the process, yes people get into difficulties that are not their fault, but we award bad behavior, even show it off as a badge of honour, for this as a human race we have failed the first basic law, accepting responsibility for our own actions, people have become a danger to themselves as to others, it allows insecurities to rise above commonsense, societies have a I don’t care attitude, because basically if you don’t care about yourself then neither do i, me first, me, and to hell with the rest of you.
You could say that with so many of us on the planet now we have to be that way, to survive, its us against them, whoever they are….I don’t agree, it just makes us more angry, more “i’ll put my fist through your face” attitude, and mostly that this attitude allows the perpetrators to get away with their bad behavior, thats the anger, they are getting away with it, so if they can, we can also, you can run that red light, again and again because you know ultimately that they won’t take you off the road, because the Government wants your road and fuel taxes and of course the fines you keep encoring, if they finally do lock you away it will cost them money to do so, so its better all round to let you kill and maim and do what ever you want to do than take you off the road, this is modern day reasoning, so mayhem and madness is allowed to run around unchecked, and the people who are trying to do the right thing just say, “why bother”, it not that throwing people in jail is the answer, but this is the sort of basic attitudes that have got out of hand, people don’t want to be over policed, however, you have to have rules and reasoning to allow society to function, I felt safer in the past, less angry, yes there were problems, but road rage and god knows what else rage only happened to drunks or other misguided fools not to everyone or everybody, for all our achievements, we are failing at the most basic.
Of course we are overuled as well, to many rules, no commonsense from our own appointed guardians, take parking for a example, in the 70’s you could park there or not, that simple, today in a known parking area there is a disabled parking zone, a drop off zone, a delivery zone, postbox pickup zone, and on top of that there were used to be ten parking spaces there is now four or less, result…all the parking spaces empty and you have to double park, result chaos, waste, and angry people wanting to do the right thing holding parking tickets, to many signs, to many restrictions have created innercity nightmares, bad signage, poor planning, and the way for them to fix it is to charge you for it, The thing is that we have the education and so called advisers to make better conditions and planning, even projects started from scratch, are built with the old problems still in place, we are not going forward any more…. or learning from our mistakes.
In the 70’s you had that sense, of going forward, things will be better, better planning, better products, and it was, you did get a better car than the last model, any change was for the better, but today everything is made to price not quality, yes it is cheaper but only lasts a third of the time an old product does, breaks easily, and looks well cheaper, inside cars they are all the same, all cheap silver plastic, and no new materials coming along too better the design, a Mercedes has less quality as a Volkswagon Golf at a sixth of the price, yes it is full of amazing do da’s, but if the gearstick comes off in your hand at 100mph it makes the Golf a better buy, Mercedes have lifted their quality control, but not to that great a stretch that it is worth six times more, And this is related to most consumer goods, even top brands have lost their luster by selling cheap, cash first, image last, now they are fighting to rebuild a reputation lost if ever to retain, they can blame cheap imitations for their demise, but the deal with the devil was never in doubt, many giant brands fought hard and passed on for generation to generation for this brand awareness, to die quickly or be dissolved into nothing, people don’t even notice there passing anymore.
This sort of constant backwardness means we are constantly repeating mistakes learnt, small and large in every part of our society, shortsighted decisions mean the problems quickly come around again, but everytime they come come back it is at a cost, I’m not saying that we can fix everything, we can’t, but things have to improve and quickly.
It has been proved that multicultural societies have failed, people emigrating to other countries just form the same communities only smaller and tighter just as the same as they had back in there own homeland, old belief’s, traditions and grievances are still inbred, they are not going away to soon, so to protect their own they circle their wagons and fight, other communities feel threatened by the growing new influence in their own traditional home, then they feel threatened, so on it goes, we can never live as one, because we are all to different, we need to accept that and start respecting our differences not our similarity, some countries are proud they can have different cultures living together in one land, under one law, and some cultures have had to run away from genocide or war, but they are transplanted into another culture far removed from their own beliefs and ways, isolated and lonely, they turn against their own helpers, who say they are not grateful, and then start calling each other racists, the dream of one happy world is just that a dream, and if we want such a world then we should start by using the United Nations as what it was originally conceived to be, a forum for a nation(s) to sort out their differences, it needs to set out clear boundaries, including country borders and respect for each other, force militant or poor governments to sort out their problems and look after their populations, respect their responsibilities, can’t be done, impossible, no not today, but if you have the whole world on your back, or can help you do something constructive, you might just do something, not just something the US wants done, The United States is one country in a multitude of other nations, yes it is a world power, but every country deserves respect, just because they don’t agree with the US view does not mean they could be wrong, are they just looking at the problem from a different view, however if every country has the right to agree or disagree, we can make things move forward, not dissolve into petty war.
A world leader, sounds very new millenium, but may be necessary, the current arrangement is to wishy washy, no teeth to the get things done, yes he maybe a good diplomat but we need a stronger arrangement to stand up to the thugs and big powers wanting things their way, not a figurehead or even a statesman, a leader, seeing the problems and finding answers.
The dream of a united world after World War Two, is now more than ever to be realised, we are more fractioned and divided than we ever were, and the sad thing is we are already repeating the mistakes again that we thought we could have surmounted by our intellect and knowledge, for all our advancements we have totally failed in the basics, its a more fearful world today, its certainly not a safer one than the world I knew in the 70’s, yes there were hijackers and bad regimes, but now everyone is fearful, their fractional fight is now ours, and if we are supposed to be intelligent and reasonable with each other we could finally start to make this a better world for everyone, not just a few, and maybe for the first time not make the same mistakes as before, notice the signs before they arrive, not just do things to keep a few people happy, make a difference for everyone.
The biggest view we can keep alive is the one the Apollo Moonwalkers have repeated, for the last thirty years….
“Its so fragile, I could put the whole beautiful earth behind my thumb”, James Lovell (Apollo 8 & 13)