Past and Future
Reviewing and writing about
diving in the 1960's vs. today (See:
NIGHT DIVING ), current
politico-economic events, and growing evidence of global climatic
change have made me more than ever aware of the big questions that
exist regarding what we are doing and the future we are creating.
We are the heirs to all the
ages. Our wealth of means and opportunity is staggering but our life
and personal time remain limited. Increasingly the challenge is to
not become distracted by the abundance of choice and to decide what
we really want and what is worth spending our time and effort to do
well. The alternative of a multi-billion strong global population
devoted to mindless consumerism is not just too disturbing to
contemplate, it is in fact impossible to imagine without mass scale
disaster becoming the ultimate outcome.
Our fate is very much in our hands. We can go on as we are,
blundering blindly forward, denying reality, insisting on doing what
we have always done, and telling ourselves that somehow it is all
going to work out. The problem is we are entering entirely new
territory and assuming we can continue indefinitely as we are doing
is simply denying the reality of the finiteness of our world. To do
so will assuredly be to stumble into increasing problems or into
some limit or threshold that precipitates massive catastrophe.
Alternatively it is within our capacity to create a future better
than anything humankind has experienced before. We already have the
means. All we require is the will. To gain this we must first be
willing to recognize the problems we face and then be willing to
make the changes necessary to deal with them.
This is no small task. It involves belief, our willingness to
examine it, and where warranted make changes in it. Belief is based
little on reason or facts. It is derived by absorption from our
society and by what we find comfortable emotionally. Only after
that, are reason and evidence used selectively as necessary to
support it. Seldom are they employed to arrive at it in the first
instance or to examine it later.
One of the most important lessons of history is that most people
most of the time are wrong. That is, much of what is widely accepted
as unquestioned truth at any point in history is later looked upon
an unenlightened ignorance at a later time. Although the
consequences of our delusions have often led to disaster, in the
past geographic isolation and smaller population limited effects to
particular regions. Globalization, technology, and huge increases in
population have amplified our impact to unprecedented levels. Being
massively wrong and unwilling to change until disaster forces us to
do so is a luxury we can no longer afford.
Issues such as population control, pollution, resource allocation
and utilization, poverty, corruption, incompetent and illicit
governments, and consumerism are increasingly of global consequence
and demand global attention. Addressing them will require we as
individuals, as societies, and as nations be willing to re-examine
and alter as necessary what we are doing, where we are going, what
we believe. It won't be easy but it can be done. We can either take
control of our future or let natural selection do it for us. The
choice is up to us.