I read a great article last week, one that gave me hope. It was filled with some political bias, some subjectivity, but the overall tone is consistent with my own. This is a great time to be alive.
The author of the article was Barack Obama. To some 45% of you reading this – statistically speaking – that’s a terrible thing to say. But the tone of the article was uplifting. We live in an age of wonders. This era has brought us so much to celebrate – the internet, smart phones, computers, medical advances, space travel, Starbucks, Avengers movies, tombeingtom.com … just to name a few. I am fond of saying that we are all, now, connected at the speed of light. At the speed of thought. It’s a wondrous thing. And this is just the beginning. We are living in an unprecedented age. We do not know what breakthrough will change the world tomorrow, we only know that another one will. Shortly. We know that. It might come in the form of miracle cures. It might come from artificial intelligence. It might come from nanotechnology. It might even come from space aliens, we do not know.
(As an aside, I don’t really believe that alien life visits us from afar but I’m sure they must exist. The universe is too big not to have other life forms evolve somewhere. Like Carl Sagan I am absolutely certain there is, was, or will be other advanced civilizations out there, but also fairly certain that we will never meet. The probability of two advanced civilizations living anywhere close enough to each other in the same time frame is pretty slim. The universe is that big. Time is that long. Encounters are a mathematical near-impossibility.)
((As an aside to that aside, if we ever do encounter aliens more advanced than us I am fairly certain they will have ill intent. When has an advanced civilization ever encountered a less advanced civilization and not wiped them out or enslaved them? My optimism has limits.))
(((As a last aside to that aside of the original aside I would also like to think that if an alien civilization were ever to become advanced enough to visit us, then maybe it has outlived the desire to destroy things. Maybe they chose instead to get along and explore the stars. They might, then, be space-worthy, long distance travelers and evolutionarily altruistic. In that case, all my other asides are irrelevant.)))
Where was I?
Oh yes, Barack Obama.
In just a few days we will know who his successor will be. In just a few months one of the great orators of our time will step down and head back to private life. History, I believe, will show him to be an able leader, a grand communicator, an optimist and a pretty swell human being. Like all human beings there will be faults, as well, to remember. My focus today, however, is on his greatest strength. His optimism.
Like Barack Obama I believe that we are on the verge of greatness. I believe we will overcome our prejudices, our fears, our bickering and our predilection for toys of war, and we will learn to become a benign species. We will, at first, because we must. After a fashion we will because we want to, because we will see the greater benefit to all mankind when we spend our defense budgets on human development instead. We will explore the stars, someday, free of the hate, jealousy, and nationalism that has kept us earthbound. We will remember our infancy and our adolescence with laughter and with shame.
And in the afterglow of our awakening we will, quite possibly, run across an alien civilization out there in the infancy of their development. The enlightened us will quietly observe them and gently nudge them towards a positive evolution, if we can. We will be the benefactors of all that we survey, because we made it through our own youthful era of self-destruction.
See, there are really no asides, just circuitous routes. 😉
So please read the article. Ignore the self-gratification of a politician trying to set his legacy. Read the optimism that abounds. We are all self-promoting in our own way, but the central message should be clear: Believe in the human ability to achieve and the human ability to love. In the end, those two factors will overcome the rest.
Despite the quagmire of executive leadership that is what Barack Obama believes. I look forward to seeing another leader like that, someday. One whose central message is hope, for all of humanity. Maybe next time that leader will have a friendlier legislature to work with. A more enlightened public. Maybe next time that person will not be fighting wars started by others. We can all hope for that.
I hope I’m wrong about the next four years. With the candidates left standing we appear to be in for a tumultuous turning back of the clock. We look to be heading into a presidency rife with controversy and scandal. We look to be entering another era of hate. Maybe that’s the rite of passage; the bump in the road. A hiccup in our evolution. Maybe we need something this bad to remind us what is good. Maybe next time we’ll get it right.
In the meantime, let us keep hope in our hearts. Let us all turn to optimism and find a way, together, to build a better world. We are not all congruent in our thinking – we are as disparate as they come, my readers and I – but we find peace together. We know that we can disagree and still find accord. We know that we can live in harmony despite our differences, and that is the lesson we need to teach the world.
No matter what happens on Tuesday we have each other. We have this planet, this humanity, and this freedom. We have this time together, in the greatest era mankind has ever known.
Let us hang our hopes on that.