Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Next 100 Years: Milestones for Success

Many reasons for pessimism about the next 100 years exist, e.g., rising challenges and a poor historical record of human behavior.  Defining milestones indicating that humanity is rising to the occasion may help lead us forward.

Milestones suggesting that humanity is on the road to successfully coping with the challenges of the next 100 years include:

  • movement away from force and toward discussion as the preferred method of solving problems
  • rising emphasis on serious science
  • rising tendency to hold people responsible for their behavior, at least to the degree of demanding carefully reasoned justifications and identification of lessons
  • longer range thinking and planning
  • rising experimentation at local levels rather than top-down, all-eggs-in-one-basket mega-solutions
  • replacing either-or, zero-sum solutions with intermediate, positive-sum solutions
A few indications of such trends do exist. The Occupy Wall St. movement has generated calls for citizens to transfer their savings from huge national banks that play the stock market to local banks. Beyond the formal Occupy Wall St. movement, popular demands for mortgage debt forgiveness matching Washington's forgiveness of Wall St. bankers is rising:

While Lower Manhattan was being occupied, the New Bottom Line, a coalition of community groups, church folks and other networks, was staging daily clashes with big banks around the country. George Goehl of National People’s Action sees the level of direct action and nonviolent civil disobedience rising rapidly among frustrated people of conscience. [William Grieder, "It's Time for Debt Forgiveness, American-Style" in The Nation 11/14/11.]
More good news, particularly the defeat of Republican attacks on the right of workers to organize in Ohio, came out of the mid-term election.

So far, however, the overall trend of cultural shifts in the U.S. at least appear to be moving in the wrong direction as measured by every one of the above criteria.

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