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August 29, 2023

Needed and Wanted in the 22nd Century

S. M. Gollmer

As I look to the future, it is easy to slip into a malaise.  The news cycle is filled with stories of violence, environmental degradation, disease, and existential threats.  Many of these issues are traced back to a rapidly changing society due to scientific advancement and technological growth.  Some opine for the good old days when humanity lived a simple life.  Whether they were hunter/gatherers or subsistence dirt farmers, the pace of life was slower, less demanding, and certainly better than what we have today.

However, these nostalgic flights of fancy are disconnected from the reality of how hard the “good life” really was.  Looking back merely a millennium I can imagine a life of farming with no herbicides or pesticides.  Use of the heavy plough to overturn sod was a marked improvement for farming, but required crop rotation to prevent wearing out the soil.  Injuries were cleansed with soap and treated with various poultices.  If an infection got out of hand, amputation was an option.  When dealing with disease, insect plagues, drought, flooding, fires, etc., the community had limited resources from which to help others.  All in all, life expectancy was 33 years, which was an improvement from the previous millennium.

Why bring up the past as I look to the future?  It reminds me how fortunate I am to live in the present.  Every generation has its challenges and ours increasingly so.  However, we need to look beyond the turmoil of change to a future with purpose and hope.  This future will include an accelerating implementation of technology and in turn a reconfiguration of how humanity finds itself useful.

The purpose of this series is to explore the theme, “Needed and Wanted in the 22nd Century.”  If this statement is true, then we have a role to serve and a place to belong in the next century.  Although I am an optimist, this future will be painful and stretch us.  It requires that we become the most of who we can be, not a lesser shadow eclipsed by the machination of our imaginations.  I am hopeful for the future because I believe we are needed and wanted in the 22nd century.

Le Regime des princes, 1279 (Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Medieval-farming.jpg on August 29, 2023)


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