December 21, 2012...doomsday? Or the Great Awakening? Or maybe just another day in the midst of an era of rapidly evolving spiritual and technological advancement.
After all my generation has already survived a few apocalyptic close calls. Heck we grew up in the Cold War, when every Friday felt like a close call as we practiced civil defense drills, hiding under our desks with hands over our heads in preparation for the big one.
I was 4 years old when President Kennedy was assassinated and for a four year old who sees the president as one of a Holy Trinity, along with Santa Claus and God, it certainly felt like a shadow of destruction was looming near.
When Ronald Reagan was elected president there were some of us who thought that signaled the beginning of nuclear war; he even joked about it saying 'we will begin bombing in five minutes'.
Then there was the Harmonic Convergence of 1987, which most New Agey folks felt would usher in an era of great Peace and enlightenment. Nice thought, but since then it seems we've been busy looking under rocks and bringing out all the creepy stuff in order to make way, perhaps, for a Great Awakening.
I really don't claim to know the answers although I am entertained my the numerous theories floating around out there, even if some of them border on the realm of 'disturbing'.
What I do know is this, our technology has evolved at a mind boggling pace over the last 100 years or so. I remember my sitting with my grandfather watching one of the several rocket launches of the 1960's (this was always a big event in those days, even in school we'd get to have the television wheeled into the classroom so we could all count down 10,9,8...to 'we have lift off') My grandfather told me the story of the first car he remembered seeing. He was a child at the time, living in a small town in New York. The car was owned by a wealthy and eccentric woman who was eager to parade about the town square in her new toy. Apparently she hadn't bothered to learn how to drive..who would there be to teach her? So she circled around and around the town center, probably at about 5 mph. screaming that she didn't know how to make it stop. The townspeople were rather amused at her pride gone awry, but not entirely unsympathetic and ran chasing after her in order to try to figure out how to stop the car. Finally some men ran to the hardware store, bought some sturdy rope and created a barrier across the street in hopes of trapping the rogue vehicle. It slowed things down substantially until the car finally ran out of gas where it sat, the object of combined wonder and mistrust, until someone rigged up a team of horses to pull it away. Horses they understood, horses were reliable and cooperative, not so much with the 'horseless carriage'. I loved that story for so many reason, not the least of which being that the heroes of the day were horses, but on that particular day it took on a whole new level of meaning as I realized that in my Grandpas life he had seen humankind evolve from horses to moon landings. I realized how overwhelming it must have felt for him and how it probably enhanced the humor of the first car story in his mind.
Now in my own lifetime, I am seeing and using, devices that are not unlike what we saw as children on Star Trek (the original with William Shatner) and other futuristic sci-fi films. Not only am I using them I have become pretty well attached to them, although I hesitate to say I am dependent on them, that's a word I use selectively. Nevertheless they have become an integral part of my daily life, something I would only have dreamed of as a child.
Technology has opened doors that never existed 30 or 40 years ago. I can have an instant conversation with someone halfway around the world. I always call it time travel when I do this..because it is usually the next day for the person I'm chatting with. The Arab spring would not have been possible without the communication we have available at our fingertips. On the other hand neither would the sterile, frightening reality of drone warfare. Any development is only as ethical as those who make use of it.
I can only imagine, and there is some historical reference to support this, that the Renaissance and the appearance of the Gutenberg printing press, may have evoked some similar doomsday predictions. With any sweeping cultural change, especially that which opens doors of communication and new knowledge, there will be certain people who react in fear. Change can be scary, anything that shakes up our preconceived notions with new information, even if it promises a better life, also brings uncertainty. Sometimes it's easier to be comfortable in ignorance that disrupted by enlightenment.
So are we headed for doomsday or the golden age? Probably neither, but it does feel a bit like the human race is chasing the car around the town square trying to figure out how to slow it down until we figure out exactly how it all works.
© 2010-2012, Jennifer Hazard