Today I had a chance to read one of Rick Smyre’s articles, “Transforming the 20th Century Mind.” Just before reading this I watched President Obama's Heath Care speech. I wonder if, “the living, reigning republicans will adapt to the changes in the environment - the extent to which they can do so successfully will determine their place in the evolutionary scale." (Please excuse the Richard Restack adaptation. :)
Yes, we are rushing to create more things - to go faster and faster. For fast's sake? To prove what? Wasn’t the universal goal supposed to be Quality of Life? We wrongly associated all increases in Quality of Life to having more money. Now all we pursue is money. In all the rush and the single-minded quests for greenbacks, isn't Quality of Life what we have lost the most? We have worked so hard to alleviate and subcontract manual labor that we have lost the inherent and natural gift of fulfillment that permeates our lives from having done an honest days work with our own hands. We are so efficient with our food mass-production that our soil is barren, our meat unnatural, our vegetables vitamin-less and our health clinics full, attending to chemical-related diseases and immune deficiency disorders. All this while selling our own souls to some soul-less corporation, helping it to create greater and greater profits while we take home less and less pay, in an ever cost-inflated world. Is this the Quality of Life we have sought so desperately, at all costs to enhance - with machines, efficiencies, out-sourcing and speed? I'll take a day in my own "back forty," plowing my own vitamin-rich potatoes, tomatoes or corn any day. I will have full lungs of fresh air, fully stretched muscles, fulfillment in the direct cause and effect of my labor and a full lauder at the end of the season. Nature is not something to be rushed and neither is Quality of Life. It comes in the slow, quiet moments of life when we stop to realize how damn lucky we are, how unbelievably fortunate we are to be alive and how blessed we are to know we can make a direct difference in our world by our daily choices in work and in play.
We often ask, “Can we do this or that?” We barely stop for the answer, so driven are we to succeed - to prove that we can. But should we do this or that? Before we launch into creating, for its own sake, inventing because we can, innovating to make work less and less valued; wouldn’t it be better to ask ourselves if we should. If we do create, invent or innovate such a thing, will it increase or decrease Quality of Life? Will it make me feel more fulfilled in life, more connected to the things that I hold most dear- will it give me more pause to be thankful or will it suck my soul dry in the end and only create a more mechanized world that alienates me from all things good and true?
I understand we want choice. We want freedom. We want comfort. But why? To what end? I do not wish to take these unalienable rights away, nor do I wish to discard or discount the value of innovation. Farmers are some of the most innovative people I know. And I fully realize that some are neither interested nor inclined to farm, green thumb notwithstanding. I only suggest that we ask the right questions before we rush in and do things and that we remember the gifts of working with our hands. I am reminded of the movie "WarGames." When the mega-computer (WOPR - now a dinosaur in comparison to today's computers) learned in the end, after going through every simulation possible in the war of the worlds, that there could be no winner and therefore was no point. "How about a nice game of chess?" it wisely concludes. Ah chess, a slow, thoughtful game, played intimately with one other player; where cause and effect are instant and benign.
Should not a "futures institute" also have at the basis of every idea, every hypothesis and following every emergent eureka moment, the self/society-imposed law that the answer to “Will this create a better Quality of Life?” be a resounding –YES! Would it not be prudent to have, as part of the futures institute, pubic innovation workshops where each person could enter and with the guidance of a facilitator be able to prove out one’s ideas, create a prototype and test whether or not it would increase actual Quality of Life for the innovator and the wider web of people, places and things that are connected to him or her. If the answer be yes, then there would be available avenues and opportunities for further advancement. But should the answer ultimately be No, it is left in the library of ideas, archived and cross-referenced for the next “genius” to enter.
I fully agree, the need for training and understanding of the chaos/complexity theory is much needed, and not without what we have learned both in the composite and specifics of our outcome/efficiency driven past. I once naively repeated in a training a line that I had heard prior – “Forget about the past, it has no real power to influence the present or future unless you give it that power.” I will not forget the simple response from one of the attendants. "But then how do we learn from our mistakes?" Great question. We can not allow our collective or individual past dictate what the future holds. We must, as Einstein directs, change our minds to change our world. But for many of us hard-headed learners, past mistakes provide a powerful incentive to change ones mind and course.
Will not the future emerge no matter our level of awareness? Is not truth true no matter the number of believers? Probably. Yet, in a million years, the earth will spin, the sun will shine and plants will cover her surface. Whether or not humanity still exists to take part in that development is up to how aware we are now of the truth and how tuned-in we are to our possible future and the process of its emergence. We must, as Rick explained to me, define the strategic framework (since a plan with outcomes and even a clear process now often eludes us), and we must also keep the determination of Quality of Life as one of, if not the most important question we continually seek to answer in all that we do. Finally, we should regain our appreciation of hand-made, hand-spun and home-grown. For if humanity does have a place in earth’s future story; it will be as each one of us takes our place as a member of a local community, where hand-sewn and hand-shakes are so much stronger than any corporate efficiencies or governmental allowances.