Monday, March 18, 2019

The Post-Nigh World

Another quality post brought to you by Steve!
Hey, everybody!

I'm going to level with you: I'm worried.  

I'm worried about the state of the world.  

I'm worried about what the future will bring. 

I'm just plain worried.

It's not politics so much, although there is that, obviously.  I like to believe that history repeats itself, that human beings have certain processes and cycles we go through, and we've kept going through them since the beginning of time.  We have a tendency to compare things to the twentieth century, probably because our parents and our grandparents lived through it.  Iraq was like Vietnam and then we went through a Great Recession not so different from the Depression and now there are Nazis marching in the streets again (for some reason.)

But you can go even further back.  When I read about Napoleon, or John Calvin, or the Borgia popes, it makes me think that the things we think are beyond the pale, people were worrying about centuries ago.  Hell, one of the most interesting things I ever read was an ancient Greek philosopher lamenting about how kids these days were going to be the end of civilization.

So there's ample precedent to believe that feeling like we're living in apocalyptic times is just how everyone always feels.

And yet...

Polynesia's disappearing.

There are islands and low countries that are just...going away.

And when I look around I realize that I miss the seasons.  When I was a kid we had Autumn and Spring.  Now it's just snow.  Just snow, snow, snow into mid March.  And then the summer scorches.  I go right from having the heat on to having the air conditioning on.  Every year is the hottest year on record.  Every year the super diseases get more super.  And people aren't vaccinating their kids anymore (for some reason.)

My generation is supposedly the first American generation that will be worse off than our parents.  That's ominous.  But in a way I feel like we're about to be the first generation on Earth that's going to be smaller than the last.  I just don't see any way that all the apocalyptic weather and political upheaval is going to end without millions upon millions of people dying.

Well...that's not true, either.  I do see one way.

It seems to me that technology could fix all of our current woes.  Technology has changed society in inconceivable ways in the past.  The wheel arrives and everything's just different, all of a sudden.  Gunpowder suddenly makes millennia of castle-building obsolete.  Penicillin.  Hell, even in our lifetimes the internet has made all of the world's information instantaneously available and free.

There's a chance we could turn everything around with some...thing.  I don't know what, really.  I imagine clean, renewable energy could be revolutionary.  3-D printing has the potential to relieve scarcity in a permanent way, which would cause massive social change.  There are lots of things that seem just on the horizon.  But the truth is probably that whatever the next thing is, the magical fix that will allow us to continue as a society, hasn't been conceived of yet.

Which is where we come in.  (You thought I'd forgotten this was a writing blog, didn't you?)  As writers, we have the potential to develop ideas which are timeless and even bullet-proof.  You can't make an idea go away, whether it's de Sade's libertinism, or Verne's conception of the submarine, or Darwin's theory of evolution.

In all of my despair and hand-wringing, in all of my nihilistic self-doubt and worries that we will have made no mark on the world, I see only one glimmer of hope.  The idea that saves us will be conceived of by an author, it will be promulgated in a book, it will be found by the scientists and engineers and philosophers who need it, and we may continue as a species.  If that idea hasn't been written down yet, we, the literary community, need to strike upon it.  And sooner rather than later.

Maybe this is all a bit overwrought and overblown.  But that's the best I can do for you right now.  The alternative is wallowing in a pit of despair.  So.  What do you think will be the great, game-changing idea?  Has it already been struck upon?  Or are you going to reveal it for the first time in the comments below?


Brenda St John Brown said...

I don't know the answer, but I'm worried too. Like keep-me-up-at-night worried. My personal crusade is using less plastic, which I realize isn't going to save the planet, but it sure as hell can't hurt.

Karissa Laurel said...

*Raises Hand* Worrier over here, too. On my way to work this morning I was thinking how it felt like we were in another civil war--a purely social one, but terrible all the same. I hope things get better. I still have hope. But who knows for how long.

Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

I think about this all time. I went to the grocery store today and was horrified how I can't buy anything that isn't wrapped in disposable plastic.

I'm petrified about the future.

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