Living in a Future World
It’s been mere weeks into the new year and this year couldn’t be anymore different from every previous year. Having already lived through the turning of a new millennium, this generation has a brand-new perspective on life. We went from a time in which industry was the leader to a time of mystery. We were born in a time during which we had answers, we studied them, and we learned from them. The answers disappear as we shift forward in life. The world showed us science fiction and told us it would become a reality. Every Star Wars fan spent hours dreaming of the day a spaceship like those in the movies would become real or, better yet, a light saber. Every person dreamt of what life would be like alongside the Jetson’s. Now, two decades in, we’re entering the roaring twenties, and we have little insight into what this century will bring. We’re all still praying the light saber becomes a real thing. We’re all still holding our breath to see the first human on Mars. During the twentieth century, the roaring twenties were a time which sparked mistakes, progress, and the beginnings of a social and technological revolution. While we may be able to look back on this decade in the future and decide that we feel the same about the twenty twenties as the earlier, roaring twenties, it can be posited that the world is set up for a much different path this go around. Throughout the past twenty years, the world’s drastic changes have diminished our confidence in our own country, our loved ones, and the solutions we set up, altering our image of what the world can and will evolve into.
At the turn of a new millennium, the world was faced with a transition larger than anyone had ever imagined. At the same time, the transition was so small, so unnoticeable, that those living through it couldn’t tell a difference from one day to another. Truly, America didn’t enter the new millennium until September 11, 2001. That day, we lost countless souls. The terrorists of the world stole their lives from us. We lost our security and our belief that our country was capable of protecting us. That day is the day that America realized that we were in a new world — a new future. In the end, lives and security weren’t all we lost. As American’s, we lost our ability to believe in the truth. From day one, our government lied to us — having provided us justifications to perpetuate the war that was initiated as a direct reaction to that tragic day. Over the next 19 years, the government forced us to believe that the war was justified, the war was productive, and we were winning. Twenty-twenty has already revealed that none of these were true. Undoubtedly, every American wanted justice for the wrongdoing perpetrated against our country. Without doubt, the Middle East does contain groups of nefarious foes, malintentioned towards the United States and our message. These enemies considered, our confidence grew as the war did. Each small victory brought about a new message from Bush, Obama, and now Trump.
This year, the truth was revealed that our small victories were lies, our progress was a lie, and the previously unquestioned, honorable deaths of every soldier we sent abroad is now smeared with controversy. Truth, as we know it, is impossible to discern. Thirty years of being alive and, as a child the president was impeached for lies (the second in less than a generation at the time), an endless war was started over lies, and now, another presidential impeachment — perpetuated by a president who embraces lies as his way of life.
Beyond the war abroad, a local war was initiated long ago, before I was even born, based on lies. The war on drugs was our solution to keep our citizens clean, happy, and healthy. Our world instructed us that every single person needed to turn down drugs and those who didn’t are addicts — dangerous, criminal, and un-salvageable. They didn’t mention that white people doing drugs wasn’t as bad as those with dark skin — a truth that came to the surface with the opioid crisis, housing crisis, and Black Lives Matters movement. The war on drugs gave way to D.A.R.E. program which instructed our children with misinformed propaganda. Commercials showed us that if we smoked weed we would be deflated, uninteresting, and go nowhere. In fact, that propaganda is still being perpetuated — despite the fact that marijuana is legal in several of these United States at this point. In my lifetime, I have watched that war on drugs turn average people into criminals. I have watched people go to prison for marijuana while others walk the street, popping their legal prescription dozens of times stronger and more intoxicating than even the most potent green out there.
In my lifetime, our leadership has told more lies to their citizens than they have told the truth. Anyone who is growing up in this time can’t be blamed when they don’t know who or what to believe anymore. Leadership has seen better, more honorable days.
Already, we have grown distrustful of our loved ones — they might be some drug-addicted zombie, waiting to attack and steal all our valuables! — but that is not the only way we have lost trust in them. Parents have lost faith that their children are going to grow up successful. How can they get a job without a high school degree and straight A’s? How can our children make money playing video games? Jobs used to be so meaningful that a parent raising a child in these days can’t wrap their head around the fact that they can make money actively online without suffering through a year-round nine-to-five. Having a factory job was a point of pride — you were part of the reason America was growing so successful. Now, young people see jobs like that as menial, bound to be robotized as our technology grows.
In the environment of endless, excessive access to social media that we have today, there exists no confidence that what we are teaching our children is what they will grow up to believe. Influence from alternate sources is impossible to keep from our children where, before, that influence was hard to get access to. You used to be able to ground your child — send them to their room, keep them from the library and take their music from them. In every bedroom, it’s rare that a child does not have access to a smart phone, a TV, a voice activated speaker, a computer, a Kindle with endless books, an iPad — the list could go on. Now, unless a parent blocks every single website, inappropriate joke in a show, or access to information about violence, they must be aware that their child is going to stumble across some concepts earlier than they desire. A parent in today’s world doesn’t have to have that one awkward talk about the birds and the bees — confident that other, reliable adults will teach them the world’s truths. Now, the list of issues a parent must be concerned with are endless. Every parent must be sure their child is instilled with the proper understanding of religion, race, gender, and a new alphabet of sexual preferences. Each parent has to teach their children about guns, abortion, bullies, cyberbullies, and fake news. Every family has to worry about violence in music, violence in TV, violence in video games, violence from police and how to prevent it, drugs, alcohol, the opioid crisis, travel bans, democracy…did I miss anything?
At this stage in life, I have surpassed the age at which I could earnestly call myself a member of the young generation. While I still look at myself as a young man, actively searching for my place in the world, that is no longer the reality. Reality is, in any other time of life, I would be a man. I would have been a man for years now. I would have owned a home, started a family, created a career. If you placed me directly into my grandfather’s shoes, I’d be out there working a tool and dye factory, earning a living, respectable wage. I’d be supporting my spouse off of the single job that requires the standard — 40 hours per week. If I were born when my father was born, I’d have watched computers evolve from an over hyped, room-size calculator into the powerhouse we know them to be today, all the while growing my knowledge alongside the growing technology, never letting it surpass me. I was not born in those times, and that is not the reality I have found.
The truth is, I feel lied to by my family, by my loved ones — at no direct fault of their own. I feel as though all my instruction has been for a generation long passed. Here I am, entering the future, and not a single person in my family can explain to me what I’ve done wrong. Nobody can explain why I’m still scraping by to pay rent. Nobody can explain to me why — despite working 40 plus hours a week since the age of fifteen, missing almost every single important family event, and even having to return to work a short day or two after burying my own father — I don’t have the life I was promised could be available through such dedication.
No doubt, some have made it. I’ve seen the drug-addicts and dealers turn into salesmen and business owners. I’ve seen the welfare wenches grow their own family and buy their own home. I’m happy for them — truly.
Was I lied to? I listened to the advice everyone gave. I graduated from high school and college. I worked full time the whole time. The world told me that this life would pan out in a way that it never did. Would I have gone to college, if I knew it would amount to nothing? Would I have focused on working my whole life or would I have focused on a passion of my own? Nobody can say what would have happened but, I can confidently say that life isn’t the same as it used to be and the predictors of the past can’t be trusted. Should I be able to trust my parents, my family, and my instructors that they are putting me on what they believe is the best path forward? I should, and I still do. I do not have confidence that what they believed was the path, is the path.
I have grown up watching truths be revealed and then covered up. I have seen billionaires who are publicly known to smoke weed and also those who are actively and willingly corrupt, engaging in payoffs, bribery, and obstruction. I have seen men and women treat others in horrendous ways which make me believe them to be trash. Yet the world adores — no — the world worships them. The people hang on their every word and action as some idol of perfection yet, they are far from perfect — some of them far from decent.
Did my instructors have things right? Did they show me the right path, or was it the righteous path? Is there a difference? Entering these twenties that are sure to be exploding with new changes, I’m not sure there exists a true way to be right — or righteous — anymore.
Every answer we come up with has its own setbacks, and they are impossible to look past. Every activist is there, trying to make you aware of every impact your small action has. Each person hoping for a better world wants you to buy smarter, buy less, and buy from the companies who truly care about you. Each person hoping to make more money wants you to buy less-informed, buy more, and buy from them — whether they care about you or not.
Every problem has a solution and every solution has its problems.
Coal pollutes the air too much? Well gasoline is your guy!
Now that there’s 8 billion people on the planet, gasoline pollutes a bit too much now too. Solar! Wind!
Solar needs silicone — too much digging, hardly worth it. Wind kills the birds; causes Cancer too (not really).
We’ve found vaccines, yet we lost trust in them. We trust neither their effectiveness nor their consequences. We don’t trust the scientists nor the reporters who tell us they are safe. We don’t trust the doctors who administer them. Who can we trust? Ourselves. Scientists long ago posited that the Earth is round because, to be honest, it makes sense — yet people still doubt that truth. Every individual needing to stop their work-day to actually prepare and cook a meal was too much of a loss. Asking them to eat a cold meal every day seems cruel. Our solution is fast food — cheap, easy, fast. Today it’s a problem as the food they serve is poor quality, obesity inducing, animal cruelty funded goop they slop together in your effortless attempt to get some calories in because you were too lazy to take the time to think ahead. Each time you buy a burger, fries, and soda from your favorite clown-kitchen you’re buying an abused animal, pesticide ridden soil, and endless waste in our waters and on our land. Or it could just be a burger, fries, and soda. People grew tired of breaking glass containers, so we found an ingenious solution — plastic. We can make plastic bottles, plastic wrappers, plastic bags, plastic everything. Now, we have one-time-use plastics, reusable plastics, plastic toys for babies, plastic parts on cars and in machines — it’s everywhere. That was fine until we found out that plastic leeches chemicals into their contents and into the ground. Plastic was a great solution until we realized that micro plastics are breaking off and floating in our oceans and streams, too small to filter out. Plastic was the answer, until it wasn’t.
With every answer we come up with we find a thousand other problems. We can’t trust that the answers we have will be the answers we stick with. You will see the people with the answers go through lawsuits in the future that their answers were wrong (Asbestos anybody?).
You will see the answers we find today turn into the problems of tomorrow.
The growing complexity of the world we live in is daunting — changing the way we look at our country, our loved ones, and the answers we come up with. Nobody can predict how the future will turn out. Science fiction will undoubtedly become more and more true each day. Each moment that passes, we grow closer to self-driving cars, exploring deeper into space than ever before, and further into the unknown. We have a rocky history to guide us. We can reference a time that seems almost unimaginable now. We can never bring back the simplicity of this millennium that existed before war. The peace of mind that came with the hope of breaking into a new future — bigger and better than ever — is long gone. Now is the time that we have to make the future that we’re living in. Now is the time that we have to realize that our world will become the future we desire simply if we live it.