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.

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Pride comes before the Fall !

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When I read a news paper or see the TV news nowadays, I get the feeling, we live at the the edge of something big.  We live at the edge of a political and historical cataclysm. Whether we go over the edge will depend on cool heads and people who’s thinking is not dictated by pride.

 

And it is our (false) PRIDE, I believe,  that lead us to it. It happened that they were discussing “pride” last night on our ABC in the series “Jennifer Byrne Presents“. We all think our country is the best, our system is the best, our God is the best and our weapons (read penises) are the best.  The implications here are “male pride” and women and children have to suffer for it.

No wonder we have come to the juncture that is our contemporary world. A hospital, in Gaza, is shelled or a passenger plane (MH 17) is shot down with no regard to the lives of people and a possible later historical outcome. One hundred years ago a series of shots rang out at Sarajevo that changed the world for ever. It was pure Serbian pride that lead that young man to his deadly deed. And it was pure Austrian pride that  made Franz Ferdinand parade in that city.

 

The re-emergence of hurt German pride after WW I  lead to WW II.

 

Whoever shot down MH 17 did it out of pride. We can do it, they thought and to hell with everybody else. We in the West like pointing at Russia and Putin (do you notice that the letters “Ras” are missing in front of Putin?) and claim  they are to blame. I think Putin is smarter than this. While not running away from conflict  with the West, he nevertheless is not looking for it. I’m  sure, when he heard of the downing of MH 17 he was storming in a big rage through the Kremlin. He himself is full of pride and that leads him into strife because he does not think what is good for all, but what looks good for him. And right now he is thinking how he could use the situation to his advantage.

 

We  in the West are not smart enough to consider a way out for people whose false pride  lead them into trouble . We could learn something from a lion tamer who always gives a dangerous animal a way out: jump on another seat or take another position.

 

The USA is full of pride ( cynics would say “shit”) and it is dangerous when a former world power is on a slippery dip to mediocrity.  In a country where they say, the second place getter is the first loser, you must have nightmares that someone, somewhere is overtaking you. I feel sorry for President Obama, who must be asking himself, why he ever nominated to be a candidate for President of the United States. Well, seeing him at the convention I must say, it was sheer pride.

 

And  then there is Israel. In 1948 it became the homeland for the displaced Jews from the war ravaged Europe. The inoffensive Jews of the diaspora became the aggressive Israelis who had no compassion for their Palestinian  fellow citizens who had taken them in in friendship and good will.

 

Seventy years ago there was an uprising in Warsaw. Polish pride lead the resistance movement onto a suicide mission. They did not know the Russians wanted  them destroyed  and the Germans were just the right people to do it.  A year earlier Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto staged an uprising on their own against the Nazis. It was not so much pride as pure desperation.

When I look at today’s news I’m reminded of those two uprisings and the behaviour of the occupiers. Gaza is being destroyed, as was Warsaw – street by street , house by house. You would think the Jews among the Israelis have learned something in the diaspora. They only repeat the mistakes of others. Of course, if you declare someone your enemy, your pride tells you,  you must give them no quarter.

 

No quarter is given in the Ukraine either. Did you have a closer look at those separatists?  They bristle with pride as they fondle their automatic weapons as teenagers would play with their erect members.  The Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is  full of false pride himself, promising  that we , the Australians, will recover the bodies and  the evidence and will bring the perpetrators to justice.  I can tell him right now, that won’t happen. He will have to swallow his pride and tell the people of Australia he can not accomplish the mission. If he tries a military solution he must be prepared to see his elite soldiers coming home in body bags, if at all. Russia has been the grave yard for many.

Here in Australia, with no neighbours we have to deal with, chest thumping is a well understood pastime, especially during the Commonwealth Games.  We are the greatest, but don’t get the idea coming here to live among us. Aussie pride is a great confidence builder, but in the wider world out there, we would have to learn to swallow our pride.

 

Mankind, as a whole, has not learnt much since biblical times and that is why “Pride” is still one of the deadly sins.

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