Saturday, February 1, 2014

This will change everything.

I sat in one of those agency meetings yesterday and watched and listened to a lot of earnest young people who have no sense of history.

A sense of history gives you perspective on how the world works, how people generally think about the future and vanity of human wishes.

In this meeting a painting was painted. People would no longer work for big corporations--big corporations, after all, will have gone, in the future belly-up, primarily because they are big. Young people will be satisfied working around the clock and sleeping under their desks because, well, they're working to change the world. They will spend their days making amazing apps and turning down $4 billion buy-out offers because their drive and principles are unsullied and untainted by silly things like reward and money.

We will live on organic food, we will reverse global warming and of course wars, hunger, disease will vanish in a single stroke of nirvanaization.

Every generation has balanced an apocalyptic view of the future (perhaps a Malthusian view) with a Utopian view. I suppose my father sat in agency meetings half-a-century ago and listened to putative beatniks blather on about flying cars and the robotic home.

Let's take a breath. Let's take a step back. Let's have a sip of seltzer.

Change is good and I'm all for it.

I do hope the world can be a better place. That peace and love will prevail, and I will spend my waning years tiptoeing through the tulips and eating no cholesterol no carb pastrami sandwiches from Katz's which will instead of making me fatter will magically make me thinner.

History says differently.

Somethings will, in the future, get better. My guess is that some Israeli will figure out a way to cheaply desalinate ocean water. Some Stanford 21-year-old will devise an app that reverses global warming. We will find a way to grow more food and curb our exploding population.

But many things will, in the future, get worse. New problems I can't even conceive of will arise. Regional and religious hatreds will continue to slaughter innocents. Perhaps the NRA will prevail and say that the right to bear arms means each of us can carry around a nuclear device.

My point is, almost as always, moderation, please.

Change, even though when we're in it seems enormous, should be looked at historically. We should try to view the world through a 50-year-lens, not a 15-minute one.

Let's take a pill.

And gain some perspective.

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