A friend once told me, “It’s an ancient Chinese curse: ‘May you live in interesting times.’” Curse or not, it’s true. We do live in interesting times. In my grandmother’s lifetime the world went from horse and carriage to space travel. We found better ways to kill. We found better ways to heal. The biggest advent I believe is communications.
For the first time, humanity is connected in real time. Every continent and every country communicates in video and audio simultaneously. I don’t think we (humanity) were ready for it. It happened too fast. We haven’t overcome xenophobia. Racism. Classism. Whatever-ism. Suddenly we are all in the same room trying to figure out how we all fit in. Like high school with nuclear weapons.
Take the recent uproar over a very distasteful video about the prophet Mohammed. One really crappy video done in very poor taste by an obvious bigot. Throw it into the internet. The entire Muslim world erupts. People die. Embassies burn. In the west, we denounce the video but still uphold its inherent quality of free speech (however hateful it may be). In other countries, they say we should put whoever made it to death.
For the first time, we CAN all talk to each other. We just don’t know HOW to talk to each other. Our technology brought us together. Now we’re all standing around not really knowing how to get the party started. Forget being in high school; we’re suddenly at my first 8th grade dance.
We live in interesting times. It shouldn’t surprise us. The world has always been interesting. There has always been war, protest, catastrophe; every single century since we started keeping records. The only difference is we are now globalized and have a 24 hour news cycle. When something happens, we know about it instantly.
Every generation complains that the next generation is going to hell in a hand basket. People cry out that we are living in the end times. We dream of a somehow lost “golden age” where life was more simple, pure and free from all our modern day problems. Reality check; this is complete fantasy. Old problems were solved, new problems took their place. If there was ever a golden age, we’re living in it now.
Instead of cursing ourselves, we should embrace continuous change and own it. We have to be strong, innovative, and willing to make the hard choices to earn the right to be a global society. Bob Dylan has a song: “Times they are a-changin’.” I believe this song rings true as much now as it did in 1964.
Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.