Finding Our Way Into the Future with Each Other

Houston Space Center Dish

Unless we succumb to the forces of chaos and folly, the transition to a planetary civilization is inevitable, the end product of the enormous, inevitable forces of history and technology beyond anyone’s control.

~Michio Kaku~

I ran across a book at the JFK airport bookstore recently and had time to only glance through it. When I returned home, I found it at Woodward Library. In his book The Physics of the Future, Michio Kaku, aquantum physicist, writes about science and human destiny over the next hundred years. Although I don’t expect to be around for the next hundred years, or even the next fifty, I thought it might be interesting to see what he predicts based on his interviews with scientists hard at work shaping our future technology.

Kaku surprised me in the Introduction with his conclusion that people have not changed all that much over the past hundred thousand years. We are not different anatomically from our ancestors. He sees our wants, dreams, personalities, desires and thinking as not much different from our ancestors either. He calls this the Cave Man Principle.

Despite the marvels of modern communications technology, we still want to see things with our own eyes and talk with people face to face just as we have over the past several thousand years. Concerts, theater and travel have not given way to instant televised, computerized or smart phone images as some have predicted. If we have not changed in the past hundred thousand years, where are we headed in the foreseeable future?

Once it took almost all our time and energy just to survive. Technology has given us something our ancestors did not enjoy, leisure time. But how will we use our increased leisure? Will we use it to become more self-indulgent and consumption oriented than we already are? What is the alternative? We can head in a more productive direction and use our energy to better understand ourselves and each other.

Kaku reminds us that our brains think in symbols. Words, images and gestures convey our thoughts, fears, needs and wishes. Lately, with limited resources, we are tempted to put the arts on the shelf in favor of the sciences in our schools. The reality is that the advance of technology is worthless without the ability to understand each others’ inner selves. Through the arts, we explore ways to express to each other what it means to be human.

Perhaps someday our technology will find a way for us to communicate with each others’ minds directly. In the mean time, we have the arts to help us share the meaning of our lives through images dance and music when words fail us or when they need a little help. I am waiting to see what you will bring to the future.

Life Lab Lessons

  • What does being human mean to you?
  • What did it mean to your ancestors?
  • What does it mean to your fellow humans?
  • What can you contribute to the world community?
  • Find constructive ways to share your humanity with others.
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Sliding Otter News 5/7/2011

What People Do When Spring Does Not Spring

Not Spring

It is spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want-

oh you don’t quite know what it is you do want,

but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!

~Mark Twain~

The calendar says Spring has arrived. I long for the warmth which left with Fall. Each morning I hope this is the day I can put away my bundle-up clothes. But more often than not, fierce winds, driving, and dark clouds wait outside. Maybe tomorrow. This is not the biggest disappointment I have faced in my life. Nobody died.

Then my mind turns to the panel on which I agreed to sit to address questions about depression and bipolar disorder. As we wait for Spring, people with mental illness wait to have their lives back. Their families also want life to return to normal. I recall the days when I worked with families struggling with mental illness and all its challenges. I also remember the realization of clients I worked with and their families when they first faced the prospect of living with these conditions in the forseeable future. They were bewildered, upset, worried and angry. I don’t blame them. I kept seeing these feelings in family after family. I also faced them in my own family.

Like any family adversity, there is no easy answer. No easy explanation comes to mind about why this condition appears in some families and not others. Is it family history? Lifestyle? Traumatic events? Even if there was an explanation, it would not take away the heartache and uncertainty they face.

I remember when I first faced this quagmire. What I learned from my own family experience helped me to understand what other families were facing. But the feelings whirling in my mind made it hard for me to be objective. Just as my clients struggled to balance their thoughts and feelings, I felt the same struggle in trying to help them deal with their ordeal.

Mental illness demoralizes people who struggle with it. Will they ever get it under control? Even if they do learn to control it, will it stay under control? What will medication do for them and to them? Will they be able to keep working or ever work again? Families wonder if they have lost their mentally ill relative for good and whether the family will ever be the same again.

Fortunately, with support and time, life does continue, even with mental illness. It might be different from before, but families often need to find ways to adapt to life’s adversity. Expectations of each other may need to change. Patience and understanding are certainly at a premium.

Life Lab Lessons

  • If you have a mental illness, find a way to understand it.
  • Help those who care about you understand what you are going through.
  • If you have mental illness in your family, try to understand it.
  • Let your loved ones know you are on their side.
  • Remember that love is kind, patient, understanding and always hopeful.

Update

Four of my books, Commonsense Wisdom for Everyday Life, Young Man of the Cloth, The Pastor’s Inferno and Navigating LifeĀ  are now on sale at Barnes and Noble in e-pub format for $5.95 each. The can be read on the Nook, your computer or other devices with e-pub capability. See details here.