My Mom is 58 and almost more obsessed than anyone I know with her technology. Her Treo is never far from her fingertips, and frequently trills customized rings. Her iBook travels with her around the country and back and you can almost always find it in whatever room she's standing in. What a different world it is than when I was in college. SO different. For example, this afternoon, I found all four of us scattered around the house working on our four separate laptops. And last night, Ben and my Dad watched some bloody movie while my Mom and I sat on my bed each with a laptop. Many of our technological trends suggest that our culture -- world, really -- is moving toward isolationism. And in many ways we are. But I must say that we did feel very much together sitting there uploading our photos...
At dinner tonight we talked about what the state of the world could be in 100 years. 100 is a long time. Lots of positive predictions: leaps in healthcare (AIDS, Cancer, Alzheimers), more technology, a more global, communal planet, efforts bent on meeting basic needs for impoverished nations, hopefully radical environmental conservation. We appear to be on the brink of making important planet-altering decisions. What will we choose? (it is so easy to look down at only our own lives and conveniences -- it's terrifying to look up at any sort of big picture).
Though there is much we can do environmentally, we agreed that the planet may continue warming regardless -- due to population, pollution, a natural shift, something. The Nuclear card also continues to be a wild card. Will there really be a nuclear war? Too hard to imagine, too terrifying. Population growth could alter everything too. We are growing at an exponential rate as is, and if devastated nations do begin to get well, there will be even more of a boom. I pictured our grandchildren piled into pod-like apartments in white sterile buildings, emerging for work wearing white suits and sliding into rivers of bodies walking to work like an Army.
Where will we be in 100 years? My mom thinks a lot may blow over in the next century. Today our world is charged: China's power swells, North Korea threatens, Russia wears more corruption, the Middle East surges and bleeds and is ready to blow. Maybe in 100 years much of this will have played out and we will be settled in a new place. The casual phrase "played out" smuggles horrific chills.
The more we speculated and talked about which parts of our world are throbbing, the more I found my body bracing itself agains the wooden chair and the impulse to squeeze my eyes shut and sing "tra la la" over and over until the conversation passed. But instead I kept moving my mouth as I gripped the edges of my seat and listened. We have to listen. And I have no idea what we have to do, but we have to do, too.
Read, think, look up, stop throwing so much away, turn off the lights, invite people over for dinner, be kind, give money away, be watchful, say yes, pray for children and leaders and grace.