I love reading books, and at one time my greatest love was Science Fiction. But wheeeeeew, there’s a lot of bad Sci-Fi out there, and I don’t mean just the fanfic. Sometimes that comes down to bad story-telling, but more often it’s because the author misjudged what things would be like, and cast a world which was obsolete soon after the publication of his story. In a perverse manner, I find it fascinating to read some of these visions of the future, and consider what happened to send them off-track. I am happy to say that a principal cause of the mistakes comes from the writer being too pessimistic in many cases; a lot of future histories assumed the continued rise of tyrannies like the Soviet Union, central-government bureaucracy, and the failure of capitalist economic and ecological systems. That is, the good guys really do win most of the battles, and God watches over us with grace and care. I don’t suppose I need to mention that many failed predictions fail to consider the power of faith and the intervention of God in human affairs. As if we managed half a century of intercontinental nuclear weapons stockpiles without blowing ourselves off the planet because we were, what, a mature race which never made big mistakes?
That’s not to say everything is better. The world of the 21st Century is no Nirvana or Utopia. We have millions of offenders in sordid varieties of criminal behavior which were far fewer in ages past. Slavery and Piracy have once again become common practices in parts of the world. We face serious threats from groups which eagerly contemplate the deliberate extinction of entire classes of ‘inconvenient’ people. Financially, the divide between Rich and Poor remains unacceptably wide, especially since being poor still includes threats from Famine, Disease, and dismal prospects for the rising generation. And while long proven invalid, many people still embrace Fascism, Communism, Caste systems and Racial/Gender prejudice. And we must add to this the increasingly radical tide of violent protests, from the insanity of individuals who speak for the ‘sanctity’ of life by bombing buildings, people who show their love of Diversity by vandalizing the offices and property of the opposing political party, and people who “support” their nation by cheering on monsters who want to kill innocent civilians, in the name of ‘dissent’. We have schools which neglect core academic skills in favor of politically correct curriculae, we see media which sometimes showcases entertainment which is vulgar and promotes immorality and violence, and we see a judicial system which rewards the side which has the most clever lawyer, but does not protect the innocent or encourage conscientious idealism. We obviously have a lot of work to do.
So we seem to be looking at a future somewhere between ‘Star Trek’ and ‘1984’. But in general, I’d say the good outweighs the bad. I was diagnosed with a form of Cancer which a generation ago meant dying within a couple years with no hope at all, but which today can be treated in a number of ways with excellent survival prospects. Systems like the Amber Alert, Code Adam, and Escape School provide the means for children to avoid abduction, and if abducted, for law enforcement to find them quickly. In most developed nations, the rule of law protects the rights of citizens far more consistently than ever before, and more nations have effective constitutions which make government accountable to the citizens than ever before. A person in the United States who is willing to make the effort, has better educational and occupational opportunities than ever before. My daughter, who is the result of a mixed-race marriage, has better reason than ever before to expect that she will not be punished for her race or gender, but allowed the same opportunity as anyone else to show her ability and character. Conduct by elected officials which used to be passed-over as ‘the way things are done’, is now regularly scrutinized by law enforcement, and when a crime is committed arrests are made and the official is tried in court. We have safer cars with better fuel efficiency than ever before, we have phones and music players that can go virtually anywhere conveniently and at low cost, more Americans own homes than ever before, and more nations are allowing private investment and ownership of property than ever before.
Sure, there are obstacles, problems, and challenges. But while we will never create a perfect world, we have the opportunity to improve everything along the way. It’s not impossible, and even the parts which are impossible, will not always be so.