Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Future We Want

“As for the future, your task is not to foresee, but to enable it.”
-- Antoine de Saint-Exupery 

Many years ago I came across ecological economist RobertCostanza’s article: “Four Visions of the Century Ahead: Will It Be Star Trek,Ecotopia, Big Government or Mad Max.” In this piece Costanza describes four outcomes for the human experience at a global level: A future he names Star Trek where technology comes to the rescue and solves many of the challenges that we face; Mad Max, named after the movie depicting a breakdown of society with scarce resources and in which chaos ensues; Big Government, a future which involves the curbing of market forces by government policies that benefit the common good; and Ecotopia, named after Ernest Callenbach’s book, in which a shift happens in which localized, eco-centered communities flourish.

It’s hard to predict which future scenario will take hold. More important, perhaps, is for us to envision what we want; what we want in our personal lives, for our family and loved ones and for our communities. Beyond the community level, the scale becomes difficult to comprehend. At the personal scale, Star Trek is where we get consumed in our personal devices and lost in technology missing opportunities for face to face interactions. Mad Max is where our lives are out of balance and chaotic and our destructive behaviors take control; Big Government is where we refuse to take personal responsibility and let others (Big Government) decide for us; finally, Ecotopia, we revel in the simpler ways by refusing to incorporate modern technology yet live in closer harmony with natural systems. There may also be a combination of outcomes that best fits our temperament and personality. Which are you drawn to?

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