hat will “now” be like fifty years from now? Some warn that climate disruption could render humanity into toast, predicting “near term human extinction” by 2030.
One of the leading proponents of this theory, Guy McPherson (see http://guymcpherson.com), recently commented on a briefing to the United Nations Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen (COP15) where climate change meetings were “thrown under the bus by the Obama administration.” That briefing predicted a 23-meter sea level rise and temperature increases of 6 degrees C or higher, “based on real long term climate records, not on models.” McPherson goes on to conclude: “Even before the dire feedbacks were reported by the scientific community, the administration abandoned climate change as a significant issue because it knew we were done ....”
That’s a dramatically polarized opinion, something we wrote about in my recent Dream book: “It’s rare to see any depiction of the future, say in films, that doesn’t offer one of these polarized views. Any vision of humanity living in harmony with technology, with nature and machines co-existing peaceably … where is there any vision like that?”
oomsday scenarios bring to mind a deft piece of comedic wit from actress Lily Tomlin, “No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up.” And, for those who brush off dire warnings as alarmist fiction, let’s recall Mark Twain’s famous comment, “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.”
While there’s an endless parade of theories and opinions about what the future holds in store for us here on planet earth – and some of them are steeped in denial – there’s really not much mystery about it at all. How so? I’m reminded of a story about a man who moved to a new town and asked a neighbor what the people there were like. “What were people like where you lived before?” the neighbor asked. “Very unfriendly,” came the response. “Then I expect you’ll find them the same way here.”
Translation: we create our own experience. In fact, two people side by side can have opposite experiences, depending on their attitudes. At the same time, we’re all living on this one planet. We might deny climate change, but that doesn’t stop it from affecting us all. But, and this is a Big But, how we respond, our attitude and prejudices, what we choose to do, is up to each of us as an individual and that has a lot to say about what sort of future we experience. And, what we choose to do arises out of who we choose to be.
lum or rosy predictions about the future similarly depend on individuals accepting a passive role in the proceedings. While we may be urged to recycle, to change our consuming habits and use less plastic, etc. those strategies – helpful as they may be - still often operate from a mindset of defensiveness. “It’s a dangerous universe, risky just to be alive.” Increasingly, more and more people are living in fear. Fear of what? Take your pick: climate change, infectious viruses, terrorism, nuclear accidents, etc. And, for those who choose to be a fearful victim, we can dependably predict what the future will be for them: more of the same. Fearful now, fearful later.
Of course, optimism in the face of all that challenges us is routinely labeled “unrealistic.” Why? Because there’s so little understanding of the creative process. Newsflash: we’re personally involved! Life is not a spectator sport. Each of us is contributing to what becomes our future in every single moment. We just haven’t known that and we haven’t been educated on how to create the kind of future we want.
My writing collaborator Will Wilkinson told me a story about an address he once gave in New York. Someone in the audience asked about how to maintain a positive attitude after receiving a terminal diagnosis, just one year to live. Will suggested that humor could make a difference and cited research that at least anecdotally indicated how one’s emotional state affected health.
Some scoffed at this notion so Will posed this scenario: “Imagine deciding to be happy. You live that year, your final year, as happy as possible, and then, on the exact one-year date, you die. In your last moments, wouldn’t you be angry that you wasted the whole year being happy when you could have been miserable and fearful. Being happy didn’t work. What a rip off!”
Will reported that they laughed… and they got it! Perhaps we can’t prove that attitude changes anything – not out there, that is. But we do know that it changes our own experience of what’s “out there.” So, when looking into the future, we can know what it will be like for us (in the midst of whatever circumstances show up). It will be what we choose it to be, dependent on who we choose to be. And if we choose to be a victim, that’s clearly our choice.
Later in our Dream chapter on technology and the future we wrote: “…it’s quite possible that the human form – as an expression of consciousness – could just become unnecessary. Neale Donald Walsh writes about this in his new book, The Storm Before the Calm, proposing that humanity needs an “overhaul.” He says, “It is our thinking we must change. In the past we kept trying to change conditions on the ground, and even when we did manage to do so (every so often we found a Band-aid that helped), the same old (age-old) problems eventually reemerged – because nothing had been altered in our mindset.”
What is our mindset? What is your mindset, right now? What will you choose for your mindset, moving forward from this moment? Whatever you choose, it will make a difference. In fact, the future is not really a mystery at all. You already know what it will be, either more of the same or different, if you choose differently.
And now, empowered by this understanding of your power to choose, you can face the future unafraid. The future of now will always be now.
- Tags: The Future of Now