A number things have happened recently that make wonder/worry? about this. And I mean where are we going as a society? Many of my blogs have looked at what we are doing with our world, how we live, our relationships with machines etc. After all that is the stuff of science fiction and that’s what I write. Those are things you can grasp hold, that have physical shape. But this is a bit different, this is more…, a sort of cultural evolution.
This carries on from last week’s blog, where apart from marvelling at the achievement of Rosetta I am a little disturbed by the idea of an 11 or 12 years old girl knowing for certain (apparently) that she wants to join the one-way mission to Mars. This reminded me of a youtube video of Tim Minchin giving a graduation speech at his old university. In it he gives nine pieces of advice. If you can find it, watch it. I think it should be shown to everyone aged 17 – 25 (or anyone for that matter). The bit that really stuck with me was, and I paraphrase, ‘beware of that ‘dream’ or that single ambition in life’. He said that people he knew who had known exactly what they wanted to do with their lives in their early twenties were now having mid-life crises (I guess he’s talking about people in their early forties?). He suggest that if we are so set on one path we can miss some fantastic opportunities that may present themselves along the way. Also, we may discover, a little late in life, that the path we chose was not so great after all.
In a similar way I have always been a believer in the idea that ‘something will turn up’ and when my grown-up children are complaining about jobs, getting jobs, life in general I tend to quote this. Now I’m not saying you don’t have to work at it make those things ‘turn-up’. My own working life bears testament to this and Tim Minchin. I got a job, because I needed to earn and it changed as opportunities came along. I spent the last twelve years of my corporate life in the most rewarding work (malaria research) and that was an opportunity that came out of the blue.
Now I think all that is good advice. But, I wonder if the next generation can afford to take it? When I ask the question ‘where are we going?’ it’s because I worry. In the UK I see the cost of entering a successful adulthood as rising all the time. Unlike my generation, not only do they have to worry about jobs, paying taxes etc. those that have been to college have large debts to pay off and it seems the cost of desirable housing is greater than it ever was. What’s more they are told from working, day 1 that they must save like mad for a pension if they are to have anywhere near enough to live on when they reach retirement age. I’m not sure how they can do all that and, as I advocate above, enjoy life (after all we only get one go at it) and take all the opportunities on offer.
And it appears that society recognises the problem while doing precious little about it, apart keeping its collective fingers crossed and continuing to pile the pressure on these young people who are the future of the human race. I can’t help feeling that there will be a back-lash at some point, that some fundamental change has to occur. Perhaps, every generation worries about what will happen to their children and their children’s children. Some of that might be selfish as well. After all it’s those generations that will be looking after me in my old age. And I know things will change, they always have. I guess I’ve just got to hope something ‘turns-up’.
Comments (and solutions?) always welcome.