The future scares me. I’ll own it openly. On the up side, there are fewer and fewer places for cruelty to hide. Body and car cameras in law enforcement make police brutality a matter of inarguable fact. Twitter informs me of things I had no idea even took place: dog meat festivals, dolphin killing festivals, for example. Girls who use a web-cam to document incestuous sexual assault. Then there’s the blood-sport of trolling, the ongoing assault on women for daring to have both a vagina and an opinion, as if a person is allowed one or the other, but not both. Surely the worst of humanity can’t long survive when everyone can see how awful it is. At the very least, doesn’t it have to diminish in the light of day?
But then we have the speed with which we’re hurtling to catastrophe with respect to our climate – like don’t the fossil fuel industries understand that they have to live here too? It’s the entire world, you can’t fuck it over and expect that your beach front properties aren’t going to turn into a coral reef when the inevitable rise of the oceans becomes unignorable.
We have a social order that cannot stand, an economic situation where we’ve all agreed on this absurdity called money, this intangible thing that exists in theory – stocks, bonds, pieces of paper that make such pretty flames. Seriously, if we all decided that we no longer agreed with the premise of the economy, if we all looked at it and accepted that we’re running our lives and going to work for the equivalent of monopoly paper, it would all fall apart. And I don’t see how we can possibly ignore this forever. I wonder if the world’s billionaires get together and talk about how hilarious it is that there is this bogus system and they get private jets out of it and all it would take to bring it down is a global confession that the emperor is wearing no goddamn clothes.
Then there is the working situation, which I’ve discussed elsewhere. I’d like to see some kind of statistics around how many people in the world feel like the work they do has meaning and is necessary in the world. Like if you just stopped doing your job, would it matter? Would anything fall down? Would anyone get hurt in some physical, material way? I’d bet some astounding proportion of people would say no, that their job doesn’t actually require doing, that the preponderance of hours they spend at work are consumed in anxiety over whether or not anyone is going to notice that they’re fudging their way through.
I look around and I see an incredible gap between the shit that needs to be done (energy crisis, climate change, these effing idiots who think killing lions and elephants and rhinos is the answer to the question of whether their dicks are big enough, orphans, making this the decade of vaccines that work – we’ve knocked ebola out, there’s no reason we shouldn’t keep going… genetically modifying cockroaches so they hate being inside) and the stuff we’re doing (marketing shit we’re going to buy anyway, moving papers around, going to meetings).
So yeah, I’m scared. There are only two ways to deal with that fear: look forward or look back. Looking back glorifies the days when men were men and women knew their place. Back when the earth was flat and Darwin hadn’t screwed everyone up with his working theory of human origins. Back when gas was under a dollar and we all believed Joe Camel was a good guy. Republican policy in a nutshell.
You know who else looks backwards to solve the bevy of unknowns associated with the reality we’ve created? ISIS. The Taliban.
Oh, it looks good back there. The reality of police brutality and people dying senselessly in custody was ignorable because the news didn’t report on it and it didn’t happen to “us” so it wasn’t of concern.
You know what it was? There was a segment of society who could be completely comfortable because they were completely inured to the pain other people were in. And that segment of society would prefer to stay completely comfortable, no matter how much pain their comfort costs someone else. And they can’t anymore. We all have to be uncomfortable now, because no one can look away. Or you can try, but there’s no escaping the evidence of humanity at its worst, and we’re all responsible for that.
The conservatives, the fundamentalists, want some people to suffer miserably in a system revealed as bogus and bankrupt. And they would will this for everyone because it makes *them* comfortable. I don’t want to be the kind of person who buys my own comfort at the price of someone else’s pain.
The only thing that scares me more than the hard work that is in front of us as a species is the possibility we’ll choose to go backwards instead.