No one can agree on the status of Earth in 50 years. Thousands of articles speculate, but “experts” are divided. Some say overpopulation and global warming will cause our destruction, others predict certain populations will decrease or die out. Some envision large scale nuclear war, others urge us to go forth and breed. Some say advances in medicine will wipe out disease, others say we’re all going to die from viruses, AIDS or starvation. Some say we will be communicating through chips imbedded in our bodies.
The commenters are just as virulent as ever, with about three quarters of them attacking people who try to express an opinion in a rational way. No article that I read had intelligent discussion, and almost every comment was nearly unreadable due to ignorance of basic language skills, excessive use of caps, and general internet abuse. It’s impossible to write an article on the future of the world without mentioning race in a scientific way, spawning openly racist comments such as “good, I hope they all die out, the world doesn’t need any more white people.” Many commenters blame the fat, gluttonous, greedy American public for the planet’s demise. Even the civil wars raging in other countries are somehow America’s fault. No one mentions that people have been killing and enslaving each other for 200,000 years, while America has only existed for a little over 200 years. Most Americans don’t leave vicious comments or any comments at all. So nobody hears us.
If you believe that Islam is a peaceful ‘religion’ with just a few fringe factions, why can’t America be granted the same indulgence? What about all the good people here—the animal rescue volunteers, the women’s shelter volunteers, the volunteer fire departments, EMTs, and ambulance drivers…the homeless shelters, food banks, countless charities, and billions in aid we send to countries who hate us? What about the Lions Club who picked up the $1500 tab for the hearing aid I helped an old lady get last year? The men and women who serve and die for our country, are they fat useless pigs too? The compassionate bloggers whose love of nature is evident in every post? The good kids who want to make a difference—the ones who don’t make the news? You don’t hear about them because they don’t commit crimes. Are each of us personally to blame for the ills of the world?
I am nostalgic for the era I grew up in because it was a time of renaissance. Our home lives may have been difficult, but the world was open to us. Jobs were plentiful, travel was cheap, we explored the world through a windshield instead of an LCD screen. We were independent and never expected to be taken care of. We weren’t obese, brainwashed, or babied. We entered the world at a perfect time—we were neither burdened with our parents’ repression nor their economic depression. We left home early, anxious to embark upon adventures of our own. We figured out how to have sex and not get pregnant (thank you Planned Parenthood for keeping me both child-free and abortion-free for 30 years). We got on buses and trains and old clunkers and used maps and asked questions and took back roads. We got into trouble but learned from our mistakes.
Politics were more than a war between socialists and evangelicals. The millions of Americans who aren’t obsessed with abortion or gay marriage are not being represented—we just want our country back. The insanity of our political system and subsequent media slants are a big factor in our reputation as a nation of lunatics, and these overblown issues cause voters to make choices based not on what’s best for America, but on personal beliefs. Left or right, either way we’re all going to have more laws forced on us. Political correctness will worsen, it’s too late to go back now. I finally understand what “silent majority” means. It means us, working a couple jobs, paying our bills, trying to help our communities, and getting by the only way we know how. It’s the people who hardly have time to picket abortion clinics, write vicious comments, or spread their whiny filth through public parks across America.
I’m nostalgic for not having a computer and not being assaulted daily with every act of violence perpetrated in the world. But despite America being the planet’s designated scapegoat, and despite those who actually do fit the stereotype, most people I know would help you if you asked them. Though I witness disturbing activities where I live every day, I would not hesitate to go to any of my neighbors for help. Maybe I don’t want to hang out with them. Likely our politics and culture are a world apart. But who in America would slam the door in the face of a person in need?
We can’t know what will someday evoke nostalgia in the estimated 11,000 babies born each day in the US alone, much less the rest of the world. Will it be simple things like music, dancing, sports, their home town? Will it be grocery stores, libraries, parks? Or will it be something much more sober—sunshine, clean water, open space, fresh food, thinking for themselves, and freedom? Because the world will be different for them, too, and someday they will get old and look back just as we do. They’ll have their own regrets, but I imagine in essence they won’t be much different from ours. The blank vacuous lifestyle of a video game-addicted couch potato may surface later in life as an inability to adapt to the inevitable shifts we will continue to experience. A lack of curiosity about the world leads to stunted life skills no matter what age you live in. The resourceful, creative kids may find the means to survive no matter what is in store for them. In 50 years, each person may be completely on their own, a slave to a warlord, or forced to live under a government created while they weren’t paying attention.
Flexibility, resilience, and adaptability are all we have to keep us from collapsing into an abyss of despair or self-destruction as we reminisce about the past, but those aren’t easy traits to sustain. Most of us are just trying to cope, encumbered with a collective guilt we don’t deserve. But one thing I am certain of—if we choose to see ourselves as victims, we may well be granted that wish.