Sunday, October 25, 2009

Managing The Future

I came across a line yesterday that got me thinking: "The gain access to the future, we must secure the present."
It's a the kind of phrase that looks good, feels good, but utterly disappoints. It is also, by the way, absolutely true.
The problem with it is this: we cannot, as a species or as a group of societies, agree on what constitutes a desirable present, or on how we view the futrure.
The problem with Homo Sapiens is that it is either too sapient, or not sapient enough. There is a cohort of visionary individuals who understand that the future can be full of humanistic freedom for every ndividual, and there are bands of equally inspired people who see the future as one of promise that depends on adherence to various religious rules.
That, of course, is simplistic to the nth degree. In between these two groupings is a vast coterie of groups, equally idealistic, that borrow from both extremes, and in only very rare instances do we agree.
We have been blessed with both imagination and ambition. The trick is combining the two with a realism that understands that we are not alone, that we have an obligation to udnerstand and care for our neighbours, that there is joy in our differences, and that our neighbours are as deserving as us to speak and think freely.
Without tolerance and understanding the present can not be secured. We have an obligation to strike down tyranny where ever we see it: whether it be a schollground bully, a workplace one, or political tyranny, we must see it ended. In free and secular societies we see examples of tyrannical behaviour on a daily basis. Tyranny is despotic and despicable. It allows for no other point of view than the tyrants. Of course, this is religion's backbone: in the worst of the christian congregations no wiggle room is allowable. Many people like to live like this, of course - it allows them to go through their existences without having to either think, make individual decisions, or take responsibility for any of their actions. Brian Tamaki's group is a prime example: with a rigidity of thought and dogma that the medieval catholics would have been proud of, Tamaki rules his flock with a tight fist.
Evil doesn't only thrive in religion, of course. Secular dogma is just as bad, if not worse The filthy ruthlessness of Stalin, Hitler, Mao Zhedong, Castro, Pol Pot, Hussein, the maniacs and murderers of Rwanda, Myanmar, and the Sudan: there was little talk of any god in their ravings. But there was, of course, a desire to have power over others.
Here in sunny New Zealand, as pleasant and green a land as you'll find anywhere on Earth, we lead a priviliged life. Our present is not a bad one, although we do all suffer under the commercial tyrants, and the politicians and media lackeys who serve them. We all serve the hegemony of money, distracted by the price of life, rather than the value or cost of it. We yearn to subjugate ourselves to our banking masters, handing over our independence and freedom to the ownership of property and stuff.
Jenny checked the value of our little rented property the other day. It would sell, so the computer says, for around $500,000. It is not actually worth that. Drop the house in, say, Taupo or Picton, and it would sell for $280,000. It's only because it's in Auckland that that it's price goes up. And while I love Auckland - it is a smashing place to live - I also ujnderstand that living here has actually diminished my standard of living. I'm not complaining. My job compensates for the difference. At the same time,of course, the price of the property dictates the amount of rent my landlaords can charge. They are very reasonable, but their hand is forced by the "market".
Capitalism is not a bad system. It is, howevber, flawed: I doubt that there is a perfect system of wealth-management - mainly because there is such a divergence of opion on what wealth is. But we must have the freedom, as individuals, to examine and debate other systems and to make intelligent decisions regarding our present and future based on open and free discourse. Our present governemnt is being less than honest with us, but then they are probably no worse than their predecessors. However, we must deal with the elephant that's in the room with us now, rather than the one in yesterday's room. I want to see and hear what our masters have to say about the distant future. They have shown themselves incapable of looking more than a year ahead. They have no control or understanding of the future, and refuse to enter into an honest dialogue with us regarding their vision for the future, and it is for this we must damn them as incompetents and also as tyrants.
We must learn to talk. We must learn to listen. We must learn to love.

LISTENING TO: The Moody Blues, "Days of Future Passed". 'nuff said?
READING: Lancaster, still. And I've jujst finished Arthur C Clarke and Stephen Baxter's "Firstborn". That's where I found the quote that led to the rant above. Probably not original, but I haven't Googled it, so can't be sure.



November 5th, 1914.

The thing is this: it is so desperately easy to make, and so much fun to put on display. All it required was a little time. First, you took the old cricket ball. The more battered the better, as it let the liquid really soak in. Put the cricket ball into an empty St George Raspberry Jam can, and fill to the brim with water. Then remove the ball, and mark where the water reaches on the can. Empty the can, dry it, and dump in a couple of tablespoons of gunpowder, then fill to the mark with kerosene. Stir until the gunpowder’s dissolved, and add more powder until the liquid won’t dissolve any more. Drop in the cricket ball, and cover and seal with waxed paper and an elastic band.
Repeat five times, so you have six cricket balls soaking in gunpowder and kerosene. If you run out of raspberry jam cans, then baked bean, apple jelly, or pig’s trotter cans will do. Actually, any sort of can is perfectly acceptable. It’s just that Jayne Francis liked her raspberry jam, so she tended to have a few empties knocking about.
Once the cans are full, cover and leave for six months, out of the reach of children and minor constables.
Grampa Smith had made the little mortar for Jayne Francis shortly after she’d arrived in Northridge. She’d caused a stir when she arrived: attractive, single, and in her early thirties (or so the village’s womenfolk reckoned) and with enough capital to buy the General Store and Post Office outright. Jayne Francis was fiercely independent: she brooked no nonsense from any of her customers, and had once punched young George Weatherby in the face when he had stepped, as she put it, “beyond the bounds.”
Weatherby offered an apology, Jayne Francis accepted it, and the matter went no further.
A week after arriving in Northridge, Jayne Francis had been to see Gerald Smith, and struck a rate for attending to her three Clydesdales, one Shire stallion, and a sleek black Arab she rode. She had also told him what she wanted, and, grinning, he’d accepted the challenge. She’d spat into her palm, and held out her hand, and he’d spat in to his own hard palm, and clasped her hand, sealing the agreement.

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