As a science fiction writer I am of course imagining what life will be like in the future, the technology and the worlds we humans will inhabit. However, I’m also intrigued by what our societies will look like. If we get to the stage where we inhabit many worlds and have the space to spread then perhaps we might learn to be a bit more tolerant of each other. I can but hope. But it also sparks the question what will those people in the future make of us?
Recently I seem to have been watching a number of historical programs on television and when we do that we can’t help but judge people in the past, whether that’s Henry VIII in Wolf Hall or the British society in general in the perhaps difficult to watch documentary on our involvement in the slave trade. What hits home from the latter is that it wasn’t just a few rich and powerful people who were benefiting, but also many of the middle and lower middle classes were investing. It is quite likely that my own family (at the time builders in Manchester) would have taken advantage of this.
We tend look back on these times with our 21st century moral compass feeling safe perhaps in the knowledge that we are now better than that, much more enlightened. However, in reality it wasn’t that long ago (try measuring it in generations). Then if we take a close look at ourselves and ask what will future generations make of us I suspect we will not come out that well. I’m not trying to be political, I’m just taking a look at the world in which I live. In the west, countries have a welfare state of some description and yet there are still many poor living from day to day while more and more wealth is being concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people. If anything the gap between the richest and the poorest in society is widening. The developing world seems to limp from one crisis to another. The Middle East is in a situation that we (the world in general) is either unable or unwilling to do much about.
To me it seems that far from being ‘better’ than our ancestors we are in many ways the same. Society still seems to be largely driven by wealth, power and personal greed. The banking crisis is testament to that. People are still using religion, ethnicity and nationalism as an excuse for the most brutal and barbaric acts. Don’t misunderstand me, I know there are many good people(s) striving to make it a better world. And we have put right (or are trying to put right) some of what we might consider to be the ‘wrongs’, the injustices, of the past. But we have also created new ones and with modern technology the potential scope of these new ‘wrongs’ is even greater.
I just feel that when we watch those history dramas and documentaries we shouldn’t feel quite so cosy and superior. So what will future generations make of us? I’m not sure it will be very complimentary, but then I guess they will have their own problems and so it will go on.
As always these are my views. Comments and other views are always welcome.