There was a BBC Drama series, aired back in 1987 (which I’m refusing to believe was 30 years ago) called Star Cops. It was science fiction, but for grown ups. It was set in the year 2027, a time when colonies had been established on the moon and Mars, when space had become commercial, with research stations and commercial flights to and from space. It looks awfully dated now, the sets were wobbly, the green screen work poor and the zero gravity effects a bit silly. However, the scripts were good and imaginative. Why I bring it up now though, is that the head ‘Cop’, Nathan Spring. Had a device he called BOX. About the size of a thick a paperback, it was a computer you could speak to, that retrieved information and could access any computer around the world. Imagine living in such a future right? To compound the irony, this BOX was an incredibly expensive prototype that drew comment wherever he took it. This, in 1987, when the Internet was only a few years away; they thought that in 40 years we’d be flying to the moon and back every day, but a device that we now all carry around in our pockets was still pushing the boundaries of plausibility. (On a geeky side note, wouldn’t it be fun if someone over dubbed ORAC’s voice in Blake’s 7 with Siri’s voice!)
My point is that the future has never been what we thought it would be. (Ask my waistline!) The other night, at bedtime, Little Bloke asked me if I thought was world was doomed, his naturally optimistic nature showing through. I thought about it for a moment. It is true that, just lately, nationally and internationally things have been grim. But I could, honestly say, that no, I don’t think we’re doomed.
And here’s my reasoning. In almost every aspect of our existence, we are in a better position than we were 100, 50, even 20 years ago, with perhaps one notable group, and frankly, they had it coming. I refer of course, to White, Straight, Males.
We were watching a TV programme last night about TV in the 70’s and 80’s, and how it reflected the society of the time. Rascist, Sexist and Homophobic largely. Now those issues still exist, of course they do, but how much further forward are we now than we were even 30 years ago. It’s not smooth sailing by any means, but we are further down the road. It took nearly 50 years from the decriminalisation of homosexuality to gay marriage to be legalised. Straight White Males, like myself, may not like it, but we’re starting to loose our grip on the monopoly of controlling western society, just a little.
Many of the problems, in the developed world at least, are stemming now from our other successes. Healthcare and welfare costs are spiralling because people are living so much longer than before. Our air is cleaner, our roads and skies safer. ‘Regulation’ and the ‘Nanny State’ has done a very great deal to save and improve lives. More to be done, of course, much more, but look back at road deaths. In 1960 6,970 people died on Britain’s roads. In 2016 it was 1,810. That is despite a massive increases in the number of cars on the road.
Yes, there are terrible atrocities happening around the world, but we know of them. We are appalled by them, and, although our power to act is limited, at least they are on the radar. In years past we wouldn’t have even known of them, much less cared.
I’m not saying it’s all a bed of rose. Far from it. For every ten steps forward, we seem to take eight backward and one in a new direction entirely, and we do seem to find whole new ways of hating each other sometimes.
But look at the hope. Look at the response of the communities in London and Manchester. The people opening homes, sharing their belongings, handing out food, to those effected by horrible acts of violence or disaster.
That is what gives me hope. Whilst there are still people willing to do the decent human thing for a fellow human being, then tomorrow will always be a better day than today. Hope and love will always trump fear and hatred, whether it’s sitting in the Oval Office or waving a black flag in Syria.
Now if we can just stop the poles from melting….