Living in the Future


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When I was a teenager or even younger, I thought the year 1960 was the future. “1984” was the distant future and the year 2000 was the unimaginable, far away, further away future. All those dates are gone now and are part of the history of mankind.

Now, we have the year 2017! I live in a present which was once a future, I was not able to contemplate at all. The last two numbers of years remind us of what happens one hundred years ago. That was a time just before I was born. When I grew up the First World War was still talked about without a quantifying number. It was the World War! That war and its aftermath were so bad that people did not want a repeat nor did they want any world war that had a number attached higher than one. They got one anyway.

My parents were both born in the year 1900 and were true citizens of the 20th century.  While they were growing up new inventions changed their lives. The telephone, movie films, electric trains, aeroplanes and automobiles, the wireless radio,  all those inventions changed the lives of millions. They lived in the most modern city in the world: Berlin.

When I was born, in an almost new hospital, I could not yet know that a madman was already in the process to destroy this modern civilisation. Only smart people could foresee what was coming and if they were able to, they left the country. So much of modernity was transferred to the USA.

All this is, of course, nothing new. There are constant changes and people who bring those changes about have themselves no idea what consequences their ideas ultimately will have. When Gottlieb Daimler fitted an internal combustion engine to a coach he could not imagine that one day it would lead to an environmental disaster.

In 1941 to 1943,  I walked past a tenant building on my way to school in which a young man, Konrad Zuse was inventing the machine that was to became the dominating appliance of human existence in the 21st century, the computer.

The present is always the precursor of the future. We always live in the present but in comparison to what went on before we would have called today’s present the future at any other time.

In today’s world, there are different struggles going on at the same time. There seems to be a religious struggle going on.  I say, “seems to be”, because actually it is not.  It is a rebellion by people who have enough after beeing controlled and exploited by others for centuries, if not millenniums.  Of course. they are guided by their culture, which includes their religion and tribal traditions.

In our European-centric or Western world, we find four main cultural ingredients combined: Roman, Celtic, Germanic and Slavic. All this with a mighty proportion of Jewish tradition to spice things up. Overlaying all this mixture is the Judaic-Christian religion. This is our framework for our  thoughts and actions.

Even if we are not religious we believe in the enlightenment and a basic morality. Apparently, the majority of our politicians don’t believe in any morality. They have been democratically elected to work for the benefit of the population as a whole. But once elected and when they know the ins and outs of the expense entitlement system they go for it like a pack of hungry wolves. They have no shame at all.

The question arises how good is Democracy if it throws up such a mob of parasites? Last century, especially after WW2, Democracy seemed to be spreading. The two shining examples are Germany and Japan. After they lost the war they took to Democracy like ducks to water.

After 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union true Democracy seems to be on the retreat. New governments are still being elected but after the votes have been counted some of the new governments think they have a licence to curtail the rules of Democracy.

On top of all this, globalisation has led to an increase in the influence of big business over the governments. The voters are reacting now by throwing out the governments that appear corrupt and they elect populist new governments which further erode the democratic way of life. That doesn’t mean the new governments are less corrupt.

The USA have voted themselves an unpredictable president who will probably govern by Twitter. Well, the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, said the other day, the future will begin in a few days. We will see what is new about it.

I say, we have arrived already. We live in a future we did not imagine when we were younger. The climate is changing our planet Earth into an uninhabitable rock. What have we done to our children and all the generation who will follow us?

People all over the world don’t want things to continue as they did up to now and they say so in a recent poll.

They want a strong leader who takes the power back from the big companies and their greedy CEOs.

We are living in a present in which the dark clouds of the future don’t show any silver lining at all.

17-06-2009-52520-pm

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9 thoughts on “Living in the Future

  1. The world is full of uncertainty, and, indeed, much has happened that was unforeseeable. But with all the modern discoveries and technological innovations have we really progressed. or are we going backwards to a world of raw emotion and provoked action? The future and the past have a way of joining hands, so it is sometimes hard to determine which is which. However, it is well to remember that the rational part of our brain developed late, so it is not surprising that our reason is often overwhelmed by deep emotions. The best we can do is to become problem solvers that truly wish to improve the lot of all peoples.

    • Thank you, Robert, for commenting. The world is at a crossroad now as moloch capitalism, some people like it as a “Black Hole”, devours the workers and ultimately the consumers too. The dangers are coming from the right as globalisation runs literary into a wall ( the Great Wall of Mexico) of protectionism. People looking for an identity and finding the old chestnut “nationalism”.

      Medical science has won so many battles against illnesses and diseases that the danger now are demographic. We are all getting older and that brings multiple problems. As the rich are taking a bigger share of the wealth created not much is left to combat the new problems.

  2. I am not sure but when we look at China and the behemoth of their almost unbelievable economy making strides within the last thirty years in overcoming major poverty, that took the West hundreds years we might be at the beginning of a new era of rapid change. China is perceived as not having a true democracy, yet it seems to work. Compare the calmness of approach by the Chinese leader to that of the erratic outbursts of the new democratically chosen US president, one wonders if western democracy is getting a bit jaded?
    Good post, Berlioz.

    • Interesting that you should mention China, Gerard. At his recent appearance at the Davos Economic meeting China’s President Xi Jinping made such a good figure as a world statesman. A Communist pleading for free trade!

  3. Ironic that China is the vanguard of capitalism that we are looking to! But I would much prefer that to the Trump Twitter tautology. I was recently watching a documentary by Noam Chomsky regarding the principles of wealth and power and how it relates to politics. Produced prior to the Trump era, it looks prophetic. Democracy is flawed and there are dangerous people who exploit that flaw. Perhaps I too, am aging and ponder worriedly about the future, more than I should? You, Berlioz have already lived through a terrible totalitarian era, and I sincerely hope that people reflect on that time and lesson, with great thought, prior to casting their votes for a populist, protectionist, inward looking figurehead lest we plunge headlong into an era that could only end in dissent, conflict and environmental disaster.

    • Thank you for commenting, Amanda. It is true, we are looking at a dark future. The generation born after us have no inkling of what had happened and can happen again. The Chinese President Xi Jinping looks so much more statesmanlike than Donald Trump.

    • Thank you for asking.

      All considered I’m as well as possible. I’m short of time as I’m going from one medical appointment to another. And if it is not me. it is my darling wife. We are at an age where it is easy to fall in the machinery of the medical profession.

      I’m missing writing for my blog but after all those visits to the doctors, there is often not enough energy left. My youngest daughter urges me to do meditations to calm down.

      Recently. she sent me a video of a 98-year-old Indian woman doing yoga. As if I could to what she is still able to do.

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