Friday, December 2, 2022

History Repeats - As Tragedy

 We live in a time of reflexive conservativeness. And by that I mean that the fear of the future, of change, of technology, or climate change or any of a million changes is met first by a "stop!".

This isn't an unsurprising or necessarily bad response. But the next step is to consider the change, not to reflexively fight it or stop it. In the crazy speed of change, it is sometimes fulfilling to scream STOP at the top of your lungs. And fight the change. Demonize it.

This isn't a problem only for Republicans or Democrats. It is a problem nearly of all of face quite often. 

Many of us cannot handle the speed of cultural change, as the fury against Trans people or gay rights shows. 

Many of us cannot handle the speed of climate change, arguing that we can wait - kill clean nuclear power or much cleaner gas obtained by fracking to save the environment that will be destroyed by not adopting new technologies. 

Many philosophers and inventors are terrified of the advances of AI. Many of us reject the future that scares us. 

And that makes sense. The future is hella scary.

But the future arrives anyway. I am reminded of the massacre of Christians in China in the 1900s. Hundreds to thousands of missionaries and followers of Christianity - all types - were killed in China as the threats to Confucianism were being seen. Followers turned to Christianity or Communism or Democracy and the traditionalists killed thousands to stop the advance.

Of course, it did not stop the advance at all. It was the death rattle of an outmoded system. One last lashing out at the perceived enemy.

Maybe the fight against abortion and women's autonomy is a similar death rattle. Maybe the fight against clean but scapegoated energy is a death rattle.

Maybe we just can't handle this pace of change. Think about it. 200 years ago, the faster we could travel was by horseback. 150 years ago by train. 100 years ago by car. 75 years ago by plane. Then 50 years ago by jet. Now space travel can take us to mars quicker than a horse could take you to the West. The world is moving too fast for us. And we often think it is moving in the wrong direction.

But standing in front of the train or car or plane or spaceship will not stop it. Vilifying trans people or fracking will not stop them. We are in the death rattle of the present. And I can make fun of people who are afraid of social change. I can make fun of people who fear climate change responses. But there are new technologies and changes I fear too.

I am pretty sure screaming at updated cell phones or quantum theories will not stop them. The future comes. Hang on.

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