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Our First Day In The New Millennium

YOWUSA.COM, 01-January-01
Marshall Masters

We welcome the new millennium with great anticipation and trepidation.  We know there will be great technological advances, but there is a haunting, uncertain and almost unspeakable thought peeking out at us from behind the shadows and leaves us feeling uncertain.

Have you noticed that nobody is debating the possibilities of global warming any more?  Let's be honest.  Debate is pointless.  By some accounts, half of England is flooded as fierce ice storms are slashing their way across eastern America, and important species are disappearing around the world and at alarming rates.

OK, we are beginning to get the picture now, but is this a passing thing?

Is Catastrophe A Seasonal Interest?

With Christmas now past, there is an abundance of prophecy and doom  programs on cable television. It seems the cable networks are bent on showing every asteroid impact television program ever created in the last ten year. 

Each program attempts to answer the "when will it happen" question with opinons of learned scientists who pontificate on the odds of an impact. In the end, the message is usually the same -- we should kinda worry, but don't get hysterical yet -- maybe -- who really knows.

Of course, the cable network run these impact event programs during the family hours, because asteroid impact simulations are kind of cool looking, which makes them suitable for family viewing. 

After the kids are safely tucked in the night, the networks regale us with somber Nostradamus trilogies featuring insightful comments set against eerie backgrounds. 

After that, you flip the channel to see the news.  With the election crisis past us, we are now looking up from our national foxhole to see that the Middle East is on the verge of war and that such a possiblity could include the use of weapons of mass destruction.  If you missed that story, there is always the government defense expert telling us to prepare for a rash in violent terrorist attacks.

However, the real fun comes after you set the alarm and switch off the night stand lamp. That is when your minds starts to race.

The Future

We think about it -- the future.  We wonder about the problems we will face.  How shall we encounter them if we do, and will we survive?

For some, the future is unavoidably gloomy and for others, the future remains to be shaped by any number of possible outcomes. 

If the universe is unfolding as the old truism goes, then it stands to reason that the universe unfolds in such a way as to routinely test us. The rules of the test are simple, and predictably brutal. 

One of three things can happen: 

  • We pass the test and evolve. (Pending legal review.)
  • We take two steps backward, and enough of us manage to survive for another go around. (Mankind has been there before.  We saw it;  did it wrong; but we sure as shootin' bought all the tee-shirts!)
  • Unable to cope with the new stresses, we cease to exist.  (Not good.)

No wonder we like to pull the covers over heads!  Yet, more of us are coming to the realization that we can no longer turn our eyes away from the obvious state of our planet. 

Foreboding Earth Changes

Our planet is changing, and in ways that are rather unkind to us. While the brunt of it comes from natural forces, mankind has turbocharged the process and the only prediction this leaves us with, is that whatever is coming our way will surely get here before we expect it.

If you set aside the risks of nuclear war or an asteroid impact, the Earth changes that happening right now are sufficiently dangerous to threaten us with worldwide suffering on a massive scale that boggles the mind.  Yet, we are so preoccupied with our own infighting that we consistently fail to take the obvious danger signs to heart, but there is still a worse fate. 

Over the coming years, our precious biosphere will become less friendly as the result of Earth changes. Unfortunately for us, mankind will be less friendly as well, and the consequences of our squabbles will create new problems that will strike suddenly and with great force. 

For example, during WW1 a worldwide influenza epidemic broke out.  While there is no doubt that trench warfare was horrendous killer of troops, more American doughboys would die of Influenza.  Yet, we widely remember WW1 and not this horrible influenza epidemic.

When we distract ourselves with squabbles, we make ourselves vulnerable to even more destructive forces. But oddly enough, the wars of the last century have brought us more technology than any other period in the history of mankind, and while we will suffer this technology we will also use it to survive even greater challenges.

Could the challenges of war actually helped us to prepare for an even greater challenge?

The Big Test

Scientists tell us that only 1 in 100 species makes it.  Given our passion for lottery tickets, these are great quick pick odds.  So then, what about that 1%, and how do they do it? 

Well, in order to survive a species must be able to do the following: 

  • Adapt to Climate Changes: Hey, we love to ski over the snow, and to bake under the Sun. We can adapt to most anything as long as it doesn't kill us off too quickly. 
    If you need proof, visit Houston, Texas in the middle of August.
  • Adapt to Dietary Changes: Species that can derive their sustenance from a variety of food sources are more likely to survive.
    The next time you visit the food court at your local shopping mall, stand back and behold the ultimate truth we can eat anything.
  • Find Shelter: Little furry animals had a real advantage over the dinosaurs. They could crawl between the cracks and make burrows. 
    While European nations build underground bunkers for their general populations, America only builds bunkers for a special few. Nevertheless, it is still a free country and we can all buy shovels without a permit, so why complain? 
  • Procreate Ourselves: Given that there are six billion of us and counting, there is no doubt that we have this one all worked out. 
    In the midst of this population boom, family-minded Americans are dismayed by the number of teenage girls choosing single motherhood.   But after a global catastrophe, these very same unwed mothers could help to ensure our survival as a species.

The point here, is that when the next big test comes, it will challenge the way in which we see our world. We will need to accept the eventually of change.

The Need to Change

For as long as we can remember, mankind has continuously repeated the same cycle: Life, death and rebirth. 

If we are to break that cycle and evolve forward, we must achieve a higher state of consciousness.

How we shape our world shapes us as well.  A great example is our hands. Our human hands with their opposable thumbs  were the evolutionary result of our need to fashion stone utensils and weapons.  This need to make simple tools would become the impetus for a major evolutionary step, during which we evolved mentally as well. 

This time around, the tools will be more sophisticated and deadly, and to survive it we will need to achieve a higher state of consciousness far beyond needed to create stone tools.

If there is an eveloutionary mantra to help us achieve that higher state of consciousness, perhaps it will begin with the words, "never again." 

Rather than debating the shalls and shall nots, we will examine our belief systems and technologies on a case by case basis.  Those that help us to prosper in a harmonious way will flourish.  Those that do not, will fall by the wayside, as will their practioneers.

The verdict for failed beliefs and technologies will be the same -- never again.

Mankind has had this chance before and lost it.  Maybe we were not ready for prime time back then, but perhaps we are now and maybe we'll get lucky this time.  If so, what will carry us there? 

Technology and Willpower

In the move Castaway, Tom Hanks plays a corporate executive stranded on a tiny remote island, following an airplane crash.  Written off as dead, his chance to escape the island finally comes to him after four years, when two outer walls of a portable toilet wash up upon his tiny beach. 

Up till then, he had plenty of natural materials on the island for building a raft, but nothing that could help him to overcome the deadly breakers surrounding his island.  But thanks to the plastic walls of the portable toilet he gained a huge technological advantage.  He now had a sail. Armed with this new advantage, he built his raft and waited for the wind to change.

With the wind at his back, he paddled his raft towards the breakers and  through the first few waves. When faced with the big wave, he unfurls his sail as his raft pitches upwards towards the top of the wave. 

In a dramatic visual moment, the tattered walls of the broken portable toilet take hold of the wind and carry Hanks and his raft over the immense wave and out to sea.  But in the end, it was simple human courage and determination that prevailed.

Of Being Human

Like the crude portable toilet wall sail used in the movie Castaway, our technologies will help to propel us over the next wave.  

But there is another part to that story, and it deals with being human in ways that seem foreign to those of us who now enjoy the prosperity of an industrialized world. 

As the future comes, we will change and in ways we cannot accurately predict. But will these changes come our future; our past; or a bit of both?

A classic newspaper cartoon showed a caveman hitting a caveman over the head with a club, and then dragging her off to his den.  Had the cartoonist had bothered to ask, scientists would have shocked him with the real news. 

They would have told him that our present day battle between the sexes (such as depicted in his cartoon) would have driven our primitive hunter-gatherer ancestors to extinction and us along with it. 

Simply put, our primitive ancestry persevered because the sexes worked together and from this harmony, all things were possible. 

The  fact is that men and women used to be much better at getting along with each other and no matter how you choose to label it, this ancient harmony served us very well. 

As we seek and adopt new beliefs and technologies in the coming millennium, let us no forget the simple truths that have worked so well for us in the past, when we were simple hunters and gatherers.

We Must Face The Future As Equals

In this new millennium, we will meet new challenges and mankind shall survive them.  In the process we shall learn new things and gain new technologies, and along with the oldest wisdom of our species we shall cobble together a new world. 

  • New is good.
  • Old is good too.
  • Use what works. 
  • Remember what failed.

It will be an enlightened world where all men and women shall join hand in hand, and dedicate their lives to peaceful coexistence, compassion and justice.

We are pliable creatures and we can change, but not as quickly as we would always hope. But, we must always hope.

Only a handful of us who now live to greet the dawn of this new millennium shall live to see this coming day of enlightenment and evolution.  But even if we shall never see it, we must believe in it.

We must also do everything possible shepherd our species in the right direction with our compass forever pointing towards harmoney and peaceful coexistance. 

  • We will survive.
  • We will evolve. 
  • We will flourish. 
  • Believe it!