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James R. Stout

Today Is Yesterday's Future

P            I believe that most of us are fascinated when we see a movie set in the “near future” (let’s say, less than 50 years). Most of the time we can imagine still being alive when that fictional future is supposed to come to pass. I know for a fact that I won’t still be living this life in the 23rd Century. So, no flying through the Universe at warp speed with Captain Kirk or Captain Picard. But it’s certainly possible that I’ll be around in 15 years. One of the things about New Year’s Day that I think is in the back of our minds each year is the fact that we’re still among the breathing. Another thing is we make all kinds of plans meant to revise our current existence.

            I remember in the fall of 1966 we were all gathered around the TV watching an episode of the “Voyage To The Bottom of The Sea” series. There came a point in the show when it showed that it was the year 1972. “WOW!”, I thought at the time. 1972! It seemed so far into the future to my 11-year-old self. After all, it was over half as many years away as I had been alive. But 1972 got here pretty darned fast and so far as I know, there wasn’t a “flying sub” and still isn’t. Then in 1973 many of us flocked to the theater to see a new sci-fi movie starring Charlton Heston called “Soylent Green”. It was a decidedly dark view of the future and I might add it wasn’t near being accurate. Not yet, anyway. It took place in the year 2022. Yea, that’s only 2 years away from now instead of the 49 it was in 1973. I vaguely remember projecting myself into the future by 49 years at the time. But I turned 18 that year and no 18-year-old ever thinks he’s going to grow old. One of the main characters is said to have been born in 1954 and he could remember the world before it was so messed-up with famine, over-population, and an out of control government. Here in America we don’t really know famine. Yes, some people go hungry in America today, but for the most part any adult does so out of choice. Some of our cities are over-populated (my opinion), but there are vast areas of America with very few people in them. An out of control government? OK, two out of three ain’t bad.

            Well, here we are a week away from 2020. That means Arnold Schwarzenegger won’t be going back to 1984 for another 8 years. But seriously, today is yesterday’s future. Life isn’t what I thought it would be in 2020 when I was 20. Nothing terribly new about that though. We simply cannot predict the future. We might be able to get some things right, but for the most part we just can’t see what the future will be like. A short 30 years ago most of us couldn’t see the Internet coming. If asked what “CGI” stood for we wouldn’t have had a clue. Almost all movies incorporate CGI in some way or other today. I must admit that cars are much more dependable today than ever before. But they also have an Achilles heel. An EMP would instantly reduce them to 3,000-pound paper weights. But I believe the biggest change we’ve seen is in the way of societal changes. Forty-seven years ago, it was still illegal to have an abortion in America. We’ve murdered over 50 million children since it became legal in 1973. You want a bleak future? That fits the bill to me. Forty-five years ago, we finally got out of the Vietnam War. For nearly 20 years we had a relative peacetime. But the last 30 years have seen a lot of killing via armed conflicts and America has been right in the middle of it. When I was studying for my degree in History, I just couldn’t understand things like “The 30 Year War” or “The 100 Year War”. Most wars that America had been involved in lasted about 4 or 5 years with Vietnam lasting 9 years. But 30 years of non-stop war? That’s just nuts. But as I have grown older, I realize that war is a part of the human condition. There’s a verse that goes, “There will be wars and rumors of wars” from Matthew 24:6.

            As I mentioned earlier, we’re about to enter a new year and a new decade. What does the near future hold? We can make our predictions, but we won’t know until tomorrow happens. However, while we may not be able to change the world’s macro future, we certainly can be effectual on our own personal micro future. We can change a negative attitude into a positive attitude. We can love instead of hate. We can spend more time thinking about what we are doing than staring blindly at a 55” television screen with talking heads seemingly interested in spreading mis-information. And maybe, just maybe, if enough of us pray for guidance, try loving instead of hating, and as the old song goes, “accentuate the positive”, then we just might see a bright future instead of a bleak one. As we embark on this year to be, let’s try working together instead of against each other. Let’s make sure that we are individually a strong link in the chain of mankind. Happy New Year, my friends.

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