The future of mankind is a rather pretentious title for a blog but I want to present two simple sentences which might contain the key to our future. At least a future we have some semblance of ability to control, and thus survive. These sentences are not intended to be earth-shattering. Indeed, if they were, probably no-one would listen, or adopt them. However, I think they go to root of the problems created by our current blind race into tomorrow. A race that appears to be picking up speed, with a direction that becomes daily more vague and dangerous.
The first sentence is:
“If we don’t know where we’re going, we’ll probably end up somewhere else”
The second sentence is one we’ve all heard many times before and, like most of the rest of the world, have totally ignored:
“If we don’t learn from history, we’re doomed to repeat it”
I said it was pretty simple, and it is. The idea of using the past as a basis for developing a vision for the future seems hardly to be rocket science, yet we almost never do it.
The COVID19 pandemic is an excellent example. The flu epidemic of 1918 was devastating, and many, many people died. However, the authorities at the time at least had the excuse of ignorance. We didn’t have that excuse with COVID19, yet we still made the same stupid mistakes in 2020, with the same devastating consequences. To be fair, the authorities of 1918 also had historical evidence they could have invoked, but they, like us in 2020, chose to ignore it.
What’s really frightening is that when the next global emergency happens, we will almost certainly make the same dumb mistakes, possibly with even greater consequences than those of 2020. It sounds reactionary but the future of mankind may be at stake.
How can we stop this idiotic cycle of trying to ineffectively reinvent the wheel each time a crisis occurs? Even more importantly, how can we anticipate such crises, in as far as it’s possible, so that we don’t just stare at each in disbelief when they happen, and try and play catch-up.
If I was being facetious (somewhat at least) I could say that such inaction is really a plot to address population control, which is totally out-of-hand, and may well destroy us all on its own. Unfortunately, such a scheme would require vision and planning, and we are particularly adverse and inept at dealing with those two concepts.
The first sentence, above, is relatively easy to address, if we take the concept seriously. We could start by teaching history in schools and universities as required topics. Not just the history of one country, or of a particular winner of wars, or the history of farming in Illinois, but considered and focused history with an eye to developing a global vision for our future on planet earth.
I read with interest this week that a group of professors at Arizona State University are planning a “Noah’s Ark” on the moon, just in case our lack of vision on earth leads us to destroy our planet. Contingency planning is always good, but their efforts might be better spent trying to help us avoid the necessity for such a project in the first place. However, in cynical terms, they are probably correct in their underlying assumption that we will inevitably reach that point.
The really difficult concept to develop is the one in the second sentence; that is, vision and the strength to follow that vision. Ironically, for the people who believe in democracy, the concept of vision seems to be far better defined by despots, dictators, the communist presidents of Russia and China, and virtually all authoritarian leaders. I hate to say it but, maybe, the concept of democracy inherently inhibits/prohibits the development of vision, and sabotages it when it does appear. A frightening thought that bears far more discussion.
The hunt is therefore on for a benevolent, compassionate, brilliant and visionary dictator to lead us into a survivable future. It may be the only way. Suggestions? The future of mankind is at stake.