retro-futurism

EmPulse for Week of March 8, 2010

retro-futurism

Remember the ‘60s with images of flying cars, jet-packs, and Buck Rogers? OK, remember Woodstock? OK, how about Ronald Reagan’s “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem.”, George H W Bush’s “a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky?” The Doors, Motley Cru, the Beatles, Sting, Cindy Lauper, Madonna? (Forget the Chad Mitchell Trio, Peter, Paul & Mary, the Everly Brothers, & Elvis…, OK, maybe not Elvis.) We might remember “Ask not what your country can do for you: ask what you can do for your country.” (JFK). Although I prefer Reagan’s description of the most terrifying words in the English language— “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” (SEC Speech— Remarks before the Investment Advisor Association.) And there are few who do not recall exactly what they were doing on 09/11/01.

Some of us learn from the past. It is very wise to learn from the past. “If we do not learn from history we are bound to repeat her mistakes.” Obviously, we have not quite learned our lessons; we assume continuous change when what is upon us is discontinuous change. The shape of war has changed: the philosophy of cars, unfortunately, has not. The idea of relationships is changing: for example, we believe that the divorce rate is declining, when, in fact, people just aren’t bothering with marriage. Go figure. We need to learn from the patterns of history in order to prepare the formats of our future.

Sadly though, other people return to the past to be safe. The “good ‘ol days,” “apple pie, mom, & sittin’ on the porch.” The reality is more like a bunch of good ‘ol boys with some really bad memory. If we look at any era of history, ANY era, it wasn’t all that good. Check out Time Tables of History. Look up any era, or year. At any given moment some part of our world was at war with another part, some natural disaster was taking place, or some catastrophe was befalling someone. Seeking safety in the past is not only a bad idea, it is a delusion. It is one thing to decorate your home in an early American motif: it is quite another to re-institute societal mores and institutional traditions & practices merely to project a veneer that things are still the same, that you are still safe in the shelter of a former time. But you are not safe—you are living in a fabricated reality that will come crashing down around you with little mercy.

Thus are we forced to face an uncertain future of discontinuous change, encountering situations that have no previous precedent, with little history to draw upon for discernment or direction in

making a decision. Flying cars never quite made it, speeding mono-rails are just breaking into our main-stream, and, thankfully, jet-packs have yet to burn the feet off of anyone. But we do have cell phones, the WorldWideWeb, with access to information never before imagined, heart replacements, artificial limbs, a Black President, and teenage babysitters instead of nannies (granted, charging $10.50 an hour). With change upon us, do we have any other option but to adapt, attack the difficulties, and advance to claim the ground for the betterment of society?

So let me leave you with some questions—

  • Where do you need to give up some old delusions and adapt to some new realities?
  • What scares you the most about our future? Where can you get help to face the foundations of those fears?
  • What would it take for YOU to make a difference in the world that is upon us?

Don’t you just hate emPulse sometimes!?!

Have a nice week.

Gary

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