“Why are you so concerned, Poppa?
“The future,” I replied.
Continued from Part 1.
By the end of our walk and the conversation it aroused in us, I was exhausted. Like most children, my granddaughter’s inquisitiveness was seemingly unending, as was her impatience to learn.
She bowled questions at me, and I played a straight bat to most, answering as best I could. She was certainly well-informed, and the thought occurred to me that she might make an outstanding leader when she completes her education and ventures into a world she is yet to meet.
“The only certainty is uncertainty,” I said. “When we are all vaccinated, and restrictions are over will, normality return, it’s a bit of a guess, really.”
I continued; “If we do have to live with the virus, how will we know what that means?”
She shrugged her shoulders in the way a child indicates unsureness and said:
“There’s a lot to think about, Poppa.”
“And then there’s the effects of climate change,” I ventured.
With that, she left me with my thoughts. Deep and brooding ones at that.
Change sometimes disregards opinion and becomes a phenomenon of its own making. With Its own inevitability
In my last post, I covered jobs and economics.
This time I’m looking at various matters that will be subject to change in the future. To do so, I have enlisted the help of Adil Najam and his colleague at Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future at Boston University undertook a rather lengthy study into the effects of what a post-COVID-19 world might look like. Beginning in March of this year, over 190 days, 103 videos were released. Each one had a duration of around five minutes and asked one vital question: “How might COVID-19 impact our future?” You can watch the entire video series here.
The leading thinkers on topics such as these were interview and recorded such topics as:
“… from money to debt, supply chains to trade, work to robots, journalism to politics, water to food, climate change to human rights, e-commerce to cybersecurity, despair to mental health, gender to racism, fine arts to literature, and even hope and happiness.”
Imagine, if you will, the abundance of knowledge that immerged from such a process. The more competent, more intelligent governments will cultivate innovation and technology to always be ahead of the game. Outside all the gloom and doom, it will be an excellent opportunity for governments to change how they govern us. That is, if they are willing to. Ask yourself how the Australian government measures up.
If they don’t, they may very well face civil disobedience. The significant doubt is this. Is a philosophy that governs for those that have the right one for the times.
The author said this in summary:
“For me, it was truly a season of learning. Among other things, it helped me understand why COVID-19 is not a storm that we can just wait out. Our pre-pandemic world was anything but normal, and our post-pandemic world will not be like going back to normal at all.”
The danger in looking back too often is that we lose the will to go forward.
Here are some observations (via The Conversation) from the interviews:
“Phil Baty from ‘Times Higher Education’ warns that universities will change ‘profoundly [and] forever,’ but mostly because the higher education sector was already screaming for change.”
This certainly applies in Australia, where there is a brain drain because the wealthy private schools receive grants far and above their needs.
“Just as people with pre-existing medical conditions are most susceptible to the virus, the global impact of the crisis will accelerate pre-existing transitions. As Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer highlights, a year of a global pandemic can pack in a decade or more of disruption as usual.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of hospitals and medicine in times of crisis, and many countries are struggling to cope. Vast amounts will need to be spent on upgrading these services.
“At Harvard, trade policy expert Dani Rodrik thinks the pandemic is hastening the ‘retreat from hyper globalization’ that was already in train before COVID-19. And Pardee School economist Perry Mehrling is convinced that ‘society will be transformed permanently … and returning to status quo ante is, I think, not possible’.”
That the world has been woken by the dread of a pandemic in itself is sad, but it has happened, and the world must confront its negativity and embrace the more positive aspects.
“Stanford University’s political theorist Francis Fukuyama confesses he has ‘never seen a period in which the degree of uncertainty as to what the world will look like politically is greater than it is today’.”
Australia has experienced nearly a decade of the worst possible governance with a climate change policy that is the world’s worst practice. Extremism is their constant companion, and the people must vote them out at the next election in the same manner as the Americans outed Trump.
“Nobel Prize-winning economist Sir Angus Deaton is worrying we might be entering a dark phase that takes ’20 to 30 years before we see progress’ – it is political commentators who seem most perplexed.
Stanford University’s political theorist Francis Fukuyama confesses he has ‘never seen a period in which the degree of uncertainty as to what the world will look like politically is greater than it is today’.”
People need to wake up to the fact that government affects every part of their life and should be more interested. But there is a deep-seated political malaise.
“Robin Murphy, engineering professor at Texas A&M University, is convinced that ‘we are going to have robots everywhere’ as a result of COVID-19. That’s because they became so pervasive during the pandemic for deliveries, COVID-19 tests, automated services and even home use.”
The future of work is a topic for now, not the future.
“Science journalist Laurie Garrett, who has warned about global epidemics for decades, imagines an opportunity to address the injustices of our economic and societal systems. Because ‘there will not be a single activity that goes on as it once did,’ she says, there is also the possibility of fundamental restructuring in the upheaval.”
We live in a failed system. Capitalism does not allow for an equitable flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience, and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level.
“Achim Steiner, administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, is awestruck at the extraordinary amount of money that was mobilized to respond to this global crisis. He wonders if the world might become less stingy about the much smaller amounts needed to combat climate change before it is irreversible and catastrophic.”
At the last G7 conference, the Prime Minister described himself as a “conservationist.” In Australia, we know that all the evidence suggests he is an environmental vandal.
“Noam Chomsky, one of the most important public intellectuals of our times, summed it up best when he opined that: ‘We need to ask ourselves what world will come out of this,’ he said. ‘What is the world we want to live in?’ “
Yet, the capacity of thinking human beings to blindly embrace what they are being told without considering evaluation and reason never ceases to amaze me. It is tantamount to the rejection of rational explanation.
Adaptation, resilience, empathy and community will have to merge with science and technology if the world is to survive. Those who seek power to rule for power’s sake must be lawfully dissuaded from doing so. If this is our first step into a new world, the second must be overcoming our negativity.
My thought for the day
I think we can often become so trapped in the longevity of sameness that we never see other ways of doing things.
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