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At the start of a year where the news is dominated by pandemic worries, climate crisis, AI anxiety, global injustices and massive inequity, you’d be forgiven for not having optimism about our collective future.
But this year will mark 10 years that I have been writing about the promise of the changes we are all experiencing – about the potential for new solutions, better lives, more human potential. And I feel more confident about that message than ever.
But that optimism seems out of place next to Reuters or Axios or the Wall Street Journal. I come back to a phrase I’ve used before:
a violin in a void.
A term Vladimir Nabokov used to describe his willfully impossible mockery of dictatorships and fascism, topics he knew well because they had upended his life more than once.
But this work about a Wise Economy, a Fusion Era, about Future-Ready Change-Making, isn’t artistic defiance, or wishful thinking -_ or some kind of Pollyanna hocus pocus about how technology will fix everything.
If I offer you that, you should rightly call me foolish.
Our future possibility is powered by two pervasive forces (just as they have in all eras:) technology, and culture. The equipment available to us, and the ways that our minds and emotions and society change in concert with the equipment. That’s been the case since cave drawings morphed into symbols for words, since steel and oxen exploded our food production, since steam power and internal combustion transformed how we create and move and live (more likely don’t live) with our extended families.
When you look at the technologies and cultural change that we see unfolding, that are at the bare beginnings of their possible future form, you see two trends that Nabokov could not have fathomed:
- Near-infinite access to information (in theory, at least),
- Recognition and celebration of the incredible range of human experience (for the more privileged among us, at least).
Technology allows us to learn about people whose experience of the world is nothing like ours, and to gain information and insight about a wider, more complex and more fascinating world than our great-grandparents could have envisioned. Those two macro-trends, and the impacts that fall out as logical corollaries of them, point to the possible realization of something amazing, something dreamed by dreamers across history: untapped human potential
But none of that is to say that nirvana awaits, or that the highest opportunities will be inevitably realized. This ain’t prophecy.
What I have meant to say (and sometimes sort of managed to get across, I hope), is that the macro-trends, the driving forces of change are pushing in the direction of progress. Of higher human actualization. Of creating the communities that we want to live and work in.
But that doesn’t mean that they will.
As many of you know, a crucial wellspring for my work came out of the experience that I’ve called “a front-row seat for the first wave of the collapse of the Industrial Era.” I know what kind of damage massive economic change causes – damage not just to wallets, but to lives, families, generations, cities. For me, this work is about helping others avoid those pains, or at least mitigate them.
There’s a lot that we can get wrong. Especially if we do nothing, if we acquiesce to old paradigms and expectations. Especially if we fail to spot those out of date assumptions in ourselves. Resistance to change, fear of the new and different, even self-serving cynical manipulation will keep showing up. And even the most determined of us will take a lot of losses.
But the key undercurrents of the changes that we are all living through are also opening the doors to new, more effective and more human-actualizing ways to govern, run businesses, and problem-solve.
We just have to know how to put them to use.
This newsletter is only a small bit from the full Future Here Now newsletter. Future Here Now gives you more of this kind of information and analysis, plus activities to help you get accustomes to new way of thinking and working. The full Future Here Now newsletter also gives you a platform for discussing what you’ve read on a private platform, with people who get what you’re experiencing.
If you are a Future Ready Change Maker, then this newsletter is the knowledge and encouragement you need. Subscribe to the real thing right here.)