The future is unfixed. But only mostly. It's is a culmination of our past and is shaped by the confluence of ongoing circumstance. Even though we can’t look directly into the future in the same way we look into our past, we can still see at least some of our future pretty clearly. That's because we actively create our future little bit by little bit through every action we take (or don’t take) in each present moment. And I think that’s pretty amazing.
Even though it's incredible, it isn't new news. Humans have been harnessing this power in countless ways forever. We seed and cultivate forests, we build retirement investment portfolios, we attending college and earn degrees. It's as native a human behavior as breathing. Unfortunately, here are a whole lot of ways many folks don’t apply this same logic where we could. Eating healthfully for our physical, mental, and emotional longevity, taking care of the environment so our children have a planet to inherit, wearing masks in a pandemic. Just to name a few examples.
It seems like it comes down to the marketing, although the marketing is also often conflicting. Some long-term planning choices are encouraged (like retiring with a nest egg), while other choices that seem counter to that goal (like the glamorous life of a big-spender) are also displayed with sparkles and stardust. And still other things don’t fit as cleanly into the way we live our modern lives (like eating food made out of food instead of processed junk made out of sugar and filler), so they get marketed as fringe.
Marketing is a deliberate exercise. Humans use the power of imagery and persuasion to further a particular goal. Boosting sales, growing contributions to charitable causes, voting for or against a particular candidate or ballot measure. Many of the people and organizations employing the extreme effectiveness of marketing are people currently in power who want to remain in power. In our current economic system, it's pretty cush at the top and pretty harsh at the bottom, so it's no mystery why the inhabitants of the upper echelons would want to stay there.
Even more insidious is when the powerful and resourced use that persuasive mechanism to distract the masses with a complicated daily existence so we can’t find the time or energy to build a more solid future for ourselves and those around us. Or, more infuriatingly, so we don’t have time to keep track of all the groundwork some folks are laying in the background to consolidate power. Like filling the many layers of the court system with insane judges who will overturn half a century of progress on rights for marginalized people.
I’m trying in my personal sphere of influence to work on anti-oppression in all its forms. The past couple years I have been concentrating on anti-racism efforts especially. But it’s really hard to devote time and energy to fighting that necessary fight when every time I turn around my own future safety is at stake because I was born with a uterus. I guess it’s good that working for equity in one area bleeds out into more equity elsewhere, but right about now it’s hard to see the fruits of all that labor so easily dismantled by assholes.
When the Supreme Court decision leaked, I was floored. Intellectually I know this current court was hand-picked for exactly this reason by humans who think people like me are inherently less valuable (and actually not even really people, just someone's personal property). But it still hurt to see it happen right before my eyes.
I can see the future fallout of this court decision in my own life and in the lives of other people I care about. Remember after George Floyd was murdered how we all learned those same oppressors would eventually come for you if you didn't stand up for other marginalized people? Well, here they are. Some people in this country don't think black people are human beings, and some people in this country don't think uterus-having people are human beings either.
Which is why I want to build a better world. I can see the potential future available to all of us if we can only manage to make it happen. I'm tired of having to fight the effects of oppression when we could be building things instead. It's like seeing the lush green valley through the mouth of the tunnel that keeps caving in because people who can't see a brighter future for everyone set off dynamite charges to keep things the way they are now. So we're stuck here, digging out from the rubble again and again.
Which begs the question: where is the secret fifty-year plan to combat oppression? And the answer is a very disappointing: there isn't one. Just like there isn't a secret plan to stack the courts with pro-environmental judges. Just like there isn't a secret plan to feed and house and educate everyone in the country. Why are most of the politicians across the aisle from the hardcore oppressors always one step behind them? Because our current system benefits the wealthy and the elite, no matter their political affiliation, and our legislators are mostly wealthy, elite people.
Look at what you are doing every day. Follow the thread of each of your choices and each of your actions into the future where they will manifest. What do you see there? Is it a future you want to inhabit? Is it a future that includes other people you don't know or care about? It should. Because none of us exist in a vacuum. All our lives are interrelated. And short of a disaster that wipes out most of the planet's population, it's going to continue to be the case. So why not leverage that inter-connectedness and use our incredible futurevisioning ability to build a better world? We can do it little by little, step by step, until we arrive.
Information and Inspiration
Jaydra is a human in-process, working to make the world a better place. Sharing thoughts, feelings, and observations about the human experience.