Monday, May 18, 2015

Looking Forward

A few weeks ago, my wife and I spent the day with friends, walking around Peddlers Village, a local shopping area which features artisan shops, weekend special events, live music, and fattening food, in a pleasant outdoor setting.  At first, the guys accompanied the ladies into the shops, but soon we opted to stay outside and talk.  As usual, our conversation ranged from the metaphysical to sports to politics to religion.  In reality, this conversation was merely another chapter in a conversation that began almost 40 years ago, when we would shoot pool all night in his parent's basement, or I would visit him at work during his 11:00PM to 7:00AM shift.  While this recent encounter involved water only, our initial conversations were often enhanced with natural and artificial stimulants.  While my experience with the stereotypical portrayal of using such methods to delve into the deeper concepts of the universe seemed to corroborate the effectiveness of such props, it is also true that our current conversations are as deep, as reflective, as enjoyable as those from the early years, perhaps proving that artificially amplified discussions may be more an excuse to review life's mysteries than a requirement.   In other words, a need to be "not ourselves" to talk seriously.  I assume, of course, that that need is only required when we are young, as if being too serious is not a component of youth.  Also, life experiences, a missing component of those early conversations, often causes changes, sometimes profound changes, to our perspective, all too often leading to the decline of a relationship, friend or spouse, as points of view diverge.  Finally, sadly, what passes as serious debate in today's partisan environment, occasionally makes me wish that some "smoke" may be mixed into the air of the participants, or a "tab" slipped into their drinks.

As stated above, we had quickly passed into the heavier topics when my friend commented on the darkness of the times we lived in, darkness defined as the absence of awareness, consciousness, even spirituality.  It is easy to see why that opinion might exist.  The radical news outlets on each side, seem to feed on our fears, whether they be of the cataclysmic changes that climate change will bring, or the perceived Big Brother like takeover of our lives by the government.  When once "breaking news" was reserved for assassinations, tsunamis, or airplane crashes, now they are a daily occurrence, ranging from the latest Hollywood star to be arrested to whose leading on DWS to news of the latest "most evil" group of all time.   Worse, good news that effects everyone, is ignored by those whose political opinions differ from the current administration, or by those whose ratings depend on the continuation of "how bad it has become".

Also, and I can't put too fine a point on this, it seems that our current outlook in America (perhaps world-wide) is more negative than positive.  Certainly, compared to the 1950's when nothing was out of reach, no goal to lofty to aim for, no future too rosy to aspire to, there seems to be a cloud of pessimism hanging in the air, an expectation that something wicked this way comes.  If we were to take a psychological position, that negativity begets negativity, then perhaps we are reaping what we sow.  A more cyclical viewpoint might suggest that what we are experiencing today is a natural phenomenon, no more complex than that the pendulum of self-confidence, whether for an individual or a nation, must swing from high to low.  The debate then, is have we reached the nadir of optimism, are still on the downslide, or just beginning to emerge?

My reaction to my friend's assertion, was that we need to look at this on a bigger scale.  That, unlike the incredible technological breakthroughs and advances that we have witnessed in the past few decades, our spiritual evolution is on a much slower incline.  Compare our present day acceptance of people of different races, creeds, country of origin as opposed to the mainstream accepted thinking of a few centuries ago when slavery and genocide ruled the day.  So, while yes, there are still pockets of people who prefer to treat others inhumanely, the general population condemns such behavior.  While it is clear that we, as the population of planet Earth, still have a long way to go, it is also true that we have passed many milestones on our road to the lofty goals of guaranteeing the freedoms of every human and treating them as we would want to be treated. 

And then there is magazines like the Smithsonian.  In the current issue, there are a number of articles detailing the main idea of the issue, why you should be excited about the next decade.  While the details of the concepts center around science and technology, those areas of human endeavor that have always been turned to for solutions to our physical problems, I would like to think that the inspiration to develop such revolutionary devices, whether they be to improve communication, health, availability of food or even entertainment, emanates from man's innate desire to improve the lives of his fellow man.  And, it is that innate desire, which I truly believe in, that has advanced our species to the place we are today and will continue to propel us towards a time when the individual's desire for power, money and fame are balanced with the community's desire for equality, opportunity and freedom.         


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