Some thoughts about our future:
1. Hope and Fear
Hope and fear reflect blind projections. We see in the future that which we are not fully aware of in ourselves – that which we are not fully familiar with or comfortable with. This takes our attention away from life manifesting right now – the only way it can manifest. Past and future do not exist apart from in our memory or ideas. There is only a continuously changing present.
Scenarios are nevertheless useful. They help us think about our choices right now, and what they may lead to further into the future. Which scenarios are my current choices consistent with? Which futures may they contribute to?
3. Current Trends
There seems to be a few current trends that will impact our future more than other. Of course, this is in flux and there will be strong trends in the future that are beyond our current horizon.
In the larger picture, our current blindly dualistic perceptions is a strong factor. We split and fragment the world, and see the fragments more than we see the whole they are embedded in.
We perceive certain characteristics in ourselves (our group) and not in others, and other characteristics in others (other groups) and not in ourselves. Seeing desirable characteristics in ourselves and undesirable characteristics in others, lead to aversion and dehumanization. Seeing undesirable characteristics in ourselves and desirable characteristics in others, lead to blind attractions. (What is seen as desirable and undesirable is mostly dictated by our culture and subculture.) These blind attractions and aversions lead to the actions that typically follows these (as we are all too familiar with), and finally to collective and individual suffering. On the other hand, when we recognize in ourselves what we see in others, we open up for compassion, recognition of our common humanity, and to clearer and more free choices. Attractions and aversions are the guideposts for us to become aware of projections, and recognize in our inner world what we see in the outer world.
Similarly, we fragment our world in an ecological sense. We see ourselves and human culture as mostly separate from the Earth. We have created and support an economical and industrial system that is based on an idea of unlimited resources. A system that does not take into account our intimate connection with ecosystems and their limited capacity. We spend most of our time indoors, and do not recognize how vital a daily connection with ecosystems is for our well being and health. We make daily life choices, and do not fully realize how they create our common future. We have one set of ethics for how we behave towards one species (the golden rule), and another set of ethics for how we behave towards most or all other species (dominance).
The dualistic phase of human evolution is still strong, although there is more and more recognition of what lies beyond – a more transdual view. It is possible that the evolution of mind goes from unaware oneness (plants), via half awake duality (most animals), to a more fully awake transdual experience (expressed by prophets and saints of many traditions). If humanity as a whole will ever go beyond mostly blind duality is an open question.
Ecology is another strong factor, already mentioned above. Humanity has an ecological footprint larger than the Earth. (An ecological footprint is the area required of bioproductive land/sea to support our current lifestyle.) Living within our means is similar to living of the interests of an investment. This overshoot is similar to living off the principal – there is no obvious effect until we reach the bottom of the account. We know how to live within our means, while maintaining or possibly increasing our quality of life.
There are many reasons why we have not moved more strongly towards a more sustainable and rewarding way of organizing our lives. One of them is multinational corporations. These corporations, some with a cash flow larger than that of many countries, have one goal: maximizing profit for their shareholders. Everything else takes second place. These same corporations are in corporate conglomerates that include most of the mass media in the world, which means that the views of the corporations and the views of the media are mostly aligned. Stories and views that support the interests of corporations are likely to be promoted, and those conflicting with the interests of corporations sifted out. Corporations also control, or have a strong influence on, the political systems around the world. In the US, few politicians can hope to be elected, even on a local level, unless they are backed by corporations. Election to national office requires a politician to support policies that benefit corporations, and set aside policies that may hurt them. (It follows that the police and military are used to protect the interest of corporations.) This leads to a situation where multinational corporations, media and politicians share common interests and aligned views.
4. Possible Futures
It seems that the unraveling of ecosystems and dominance of corporations will continue for a while. It will lead to massive suffering around the world (natural disasters, famine, diseases, wars, mass migration) – even more than what we see today. It seems that it may lead to one of two different scenarios. One where our social system unravels with the ecological system (leading to a significantly reduced human population). Another that leads to an awakening and change of course. Maybe the most likely is an awakening that is just enough to help us keep going longer, but one that also will not respond fully to all of our challenges.