by Mike Meyer
Finally the future is leaving the past behind. That might seem a given to some but for humankind it is much more complex. We spend much of our lives entangled in the past that removes possible futures. For societies we have assumptions, obligations, and lies that shape our future by denying all but a few options.
In times of major, paradigmatic, change a tremendous range of alternatives become possible. Social, political, economic, and spiritual opportunities appear and become available. In these periods the speed and disruptive nature of change drives segments of the population into reactionary denial causing them to reject future and fixate on an, often, imaginary past.
We all know this and it takes only a few years to have gained experience with people who are not only blind to the future but will fight it in any way they can. In the most extreme times, and the most prone to disruption cultures, this produces a demand for a return to the past. That is absurd but it happens and America has been caught in this absurdity for the last two years.
Opportunists will always appear to offer to bring back the past or anything else that some part of a society begins to demand. The sillier the demand the better for those dedicated to fleecing the suckers. If you can’t really define it, and particularly if it isn’t even possible, the sky is the limit. As P.T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” And at times of massive technology driven change fear driven reactionaries become a sucker population explosion.
They demand to freeze time, and whatever else they’ve been sold, but it doesn’t last. History is a force that moves on. The arrow of time, at least for our species, points in only one direction. The river of time may be broad and slow or narrow and fast. It may be temporarily blocked for some people’s purpose with people acting as beavers, but the laws of physics and fluid dynamics dictate that the forces must be carefully balanced or the natural flow will be restored no matter the hubris of the beavers involved.
America is finally seeing a version of the flow of history being restored. Historically either the dam is broken or the flow follows another route. Paradigmatic change may be also be understood as a new path for the flow of history.
The young are the traditional force for opening the flow of time. They see what they have been given and then choose to reject what doesn’t work. They may be presumptuous and naive but they know they are the future and not the past. If they can’t overcome the barriers that have been built against time they may begin to simply ignore them. Time is on their side.
It’s possible to be burdened with age and experience that makes stupidity and denial of change seen impossible to break but break it will. Experience makes us aware of the dangers and the cruelty that a particularly period of great change can produce among a subset of a given population. We have seen how far down that can go in the America of Trump and political self destruction.
But paths, often discovered by the young, start to reduce the resistance to forward motion. These then become the route to the future while the past barriers quickly become backwaters and static, increasingly fetid pools. It is very nearly a cliché that change is accelerating but it is, never the less, reality. We do not have decades and centuries but only years and sometimes only months as change transforms different parts of our lives and whole foundations of our societies.
Without bothering with academic justifications, themselves a kind of barrier to the future, the pressures of new technology on our societies accelerate the flow on the new routes that technology, in an inevitable feedback loop, make increasingly possible and continuously redirect. Rapid change and new futures are their own justification. People say they work by following them and leaving them if they don’t lead to what is needed.
Talk is cheap and lies are easy but people create the future by accepting and then adopting new terms and concepts. People choose to live the new future and the changes are then actual and real. Those grasping at lies discover that they are increasingly alone as their world shrinks.
We’ve been caught in the endless justifications and fear mongering of those who see only their own loss in the future. Some will fight to the end of their lives and some will try to destroy it all for their own ultimate denial. We just need to watch for and agree on ways to stop those people before they become dangerous.
Fortunately these blockages become swamps and self isolate the problem while the mainstream in multiple channels leaves them behind. However you explain or justify these things, this is how they happen in the flow of time and history and we know that.
People require simplified statements of change. We need to greatly increase our comfort with complex and nonlinear change but, inevitably, the flow of history uses memes to identify the new paths that our river of time begins to follow. People need to name and identify the new landmarks as we move to new channels of time and change.
We can see what I’m describing around us as certain terms and concepts are repeated and become understood. Initially this does not mean default acceptance of the new, simplified concepts but they must go through a period of becoming comfortable on the tongue and then on the mind. We have been dealing with an accelerating onslaught of this but it is starting to move us into the flow.
This has already happened in many places and is still blocked in others but the pressures are beginning to build. The majority have already come to understand this and it is all becoming clearer although nothing this complex can be reduced to simplicity. The absurdity of the Trump era in America and collapse of both political parties shows how difficult this will be. But it is happening and picking up speed not toward conflict but around the various historical blockages
Two areas seem to have found agreed names for our futures. One is a redefinition of spiritual, moral and, ethical health in post industrial societies and the other is economic/political principles seeking a sustainable mix.
Both areas, that underpin much of human society, are almost completely new although they build on existing words and older concepts as raw materials. Because they are part of the new they are completely alien to the forces of reaction who confuse them with their own delusions. Words have been harvested and are being turned into what we need for a planet that must be closely linked and open to all to overcome the planetary disasters that we have caused. That is a major force behind the flow of history into new channels to correct and create the sustainable futures that we cannot survive without.
The two phrases/memes are easy and spreading quickly at a new level of understanding. These are the future becoming real:
- Spiritual not religious
- Democratic socialism
Listen for these as they appear in songs and stories and conversations. These are flags for the new flow of history and are becoming more powerful by the day.
The first is a statement that predominantly young people make to define themselves and avoid inclusion in the old corrupt religions. ‘Spiritual’ is recognition of human need that is best handled as a personal practice. ‘Not religion’ is simple a marker distancing each person from past human mistakes and institutional failures. That’s all but that is enough to define a future of spiritual responsibility and health and confirm the decline of the old religions.
Democratic Socialism may also be social democracy and is the most successful form of late twentieth century government that is now evolving beyond the old institutional structure. It has a new meaning in America that missed the change of the late twentieth century and now has to do some catch up to be ready for the new.
This is simply a marker for basic principles of human administration. It is the mix of rights, equality and democracy based on need rather than greed. It is not a revolutionary slogan but a statement of minimal standards that must be supplied. Shelter, nutrition, healthcare, education and the freedom to work for satisfaction are rights and not privileges that can be deemed too expensive. Government cannot take those things away.
These are not calls for the creation of new institutions but calls to eliminate and replace old institutions that have corrupted human society and oppressed everyone, particularly the People of Color who are the majority of this planet. In another way we can say that the diversity of life is our future.
Whether you are one to swim to the fast flowing center of the river of time or prefer to stay closer to the shores for calmer life we are all moving and finding our comfortable rate of change.
Those that don’t or can’t will be left where they are. And that will be its own solution until they are washed away.