WorldWideFuture Weblog

the future of education, politics, science and art

The 21st century can begin now

The Americans finally got it right. It seems that for a long time now we have lived in a world of deception and greed and suspicion and dirty tricks. The Bush years should be known as the Fortress America years. It felt like intelligence crawled under a rock and the sun was going to be forever hidden by cloud. But did you hear that? It was the collective giddy excitement felt around the world: the Americans got it right and elected someone we all felt they never would, an African-American clearly not of the ol’ boys club and a man of vision and hope for the future.

Remember the questions: “where were you when Kennedy was shot?” or “where were you when the planes hit the towers?” We will be saying “where were you when Barack Obama was elected President of the United States?” I have to beg forgiveness if it all sounds over-dramatic. Perhaps I am reading too much into it, but in talking to people one comes away with the feeling that the world has suddenly shifted. Only this time it suddenly radiated hope that the future is going to be brighter.

I envy the Americans and their history. Born in revolution against the rule of empire and a history lived through a spirit of individualism and freedom, their story is something to marvel at. But their recent history…the cynicism and pessimism of Nixon’s Watergate and Vietnam, of Clinton’s executive privilege and especially Bush’s unjust and unjustified war in Iraq had dimmed Liberty’s torch. It seemed to signal the end was at hand for the American century, and it was only a matter of time before a new world order, a dark one at that, would be taking over.

Obama ran a positive campaign of hope and promise, not once stooping to the negative sarcasm that characterized the Republican’s messages. Some people never learn. Whether Obama can live up to the image and the promise remains to be seen of course. But the tears in the eyes and the cheers worldwide and the joyful look of the people of Chicago that night in November said it all… at least for now we can all imagine the heavy weight has been lifted and the world-wide future awaits in anticipation. Perhaps we can now see the promise of the 21st century.

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.”

– Barack Obama November 4, 2008

Bravo Barack!

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November 7, 2008 Posted by | politics | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Puffins poop, lipstick smears and we all lose, again

I started this blog because I was concerned about “future crashing into the present” as described by Alvin Toffler in Future Shock. I hoped that my blog would be a means to keep myself actively informed and perhaps help me bring insight into a bit of the future for myself and my fellow netizens. Well, now it is election season in North America, a.k.a. the theatre of the absurd. The Americans, of course, have been at it for what seems like eternity. We here in Canada are just beginning our spectacle (well, it seems we have been at it forever too, with an ineffective minority government). The election ritual makes me ponder the impact and implications of democracy on the world wide future. First, can we hope that we will have a leadership that is informed enough about true scientific and economic factors to govern a complex society; and secondly (and more universally), does democracy in its present form work in a global economic situation? Can we hope that politicos will forego the usual self-preservation pandering to portray the future as it really needs to be?

Lessons can be learned from the current political theatre both in Canada and the US, where in the case of Canada, puffins poop and in the US lipstick hides the old guy. This is blatant pandering to the masses if there ever was one.

We live in times where we, the people must make hard decisions to secure a viable future for the next generation and beyond. The cracking of ice sheets are sounds that should be heard around the world as the dire warning they are. But is the environment even creating a single bubble in the water cooler? At least in Canada it is an issue, though clouded. In the US, the supposedly “leader of the free world”, you can hear the tumbleweeds blow by the whole issue.

In Canada, our Liberal party, currently in opposition, has come up with a plan to tax the wasteful and encourage future thinking (called the Green Shift). On first read, it looked like yet another tax grab that will never disappear (wasn’t income tax a temporary measure to pay for WWI?) But at second read it makes sense for the future if enacted as described (increase taxes on wasteful high energy consumption, decrease income taxes and tax relief for sustainable energy use). However, the Conservatives, now dressed in cozy blue sweaters, heap scorn on the plan by portraying puffins pooping on the Liberal leader Stephan Dion. The Conservatives, who used to have the word “Progressive” in front of their party name and have rightly stripped it off, have not addressed a single issue regarding the environment. They even lead a futile attempt to keep the Green party from the upcoming televised debates. Boy, we aren’t moving ahead very far, aren’t we?

Elizabeth May, head of Canada's Green Party

Elizabeth May, head of Canada's Green Party. Can the green message ever be effective in today's political theatre of the absurd? (Photo by Michael Scott, taken at Orleans town hall meeting March 22 2007)

Meanwhile, back in the US, the party of George Bush has resorted to the blatant attempt to hide any real issues by hiring an unknown woman (Sarah Palin) to run as the VP (a gun toting, bible thumping one at that!) McCain had to go all the way to Alaska to find anyone who will detract from the disastrous last eight years of their ruling mandate. I haven’t heard the word “environment” even mentioned once by the media since who knows when…the story of the day is about lipstick on pigs.

The quandary for democracy is that the hard issues…paying more for services, scaling back to cover debt or increased costs, making sacrifices for protecting the environment, making long term plans for a more sustainable future, are in direct conflict with saying the right things to get elected. The result is bowing to the lowest common denominator, while lies, deceit, clouding the issues, pandering to special interests, spending sprees (real or imaginary) and empty promises. We, the people, lose. We need to take a cold hard look at democracy and how it really works in a much more complicated, globally connected world. One just has to watch with a cynical eye any of the commercial ads by politicians to understand that we will not be served by the current crop of politicians.

There is a problem with our electoral system that precludes a true democratic process, and yet it is easy to fix. At present, if one was disenchanted and disillusioned with the political process one can either spoil their ballot or not vote at all. But either method is meaningless…the statistics just get melded into the apathetic or mistaken pile. What we need, for the furtherance of democracy and to send a clear message of distrust and disgust for the empty rhetoric of party politics is a line on every ballot: NONE OF THE ABOVE. Simply, if one is not in favour of political party pandering, deceits, false promises, empty rhetoric or hidden agendas, then one can send a message to the system to rethink and come back again with a realistic and responsible government. NONE OF THE ABOVE. We need a way to say: a successful sustainable future requires clear honest messages and serious planning that goes beyond the politics of the past. The future has crashed into the present, and has highlighted the need for a systematic retooling of our society’s infrastructure. We need to start fixing the way society is run by looking at the way people are hired to make the decisions if we want a bright world wide future.

September 15, 2008 Posted by | Environment, future, politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment