This time next week, it will be next year.
One of my favorite moments of anachronism is in Transformers the Movie, when the narrator says ‘it is the year 2005’. 2005, when Earth is a space-faring society that has become a major player on the intergalactic stage. Or maybe the opening of Robotech when the narrator begins the show with ‘in the year 1999, high above Macross Island in the south Pacific, a phenomenal event occurred which altered the course of human history’. Anime, of course, has no monopoly on such passed dates. Terminator. Star Trek. All of science fiction is littered with such missed dates when a singularity would occur, after which life would be totally different.
In truth, those events don’t seem to come. At least not on a global scale, a societal scale. Personal, perhaps. Since 2005, I’ve had quite a few of those moments when what came before might as well been a different world than what came after. I wish I could report that they were all great events, but sadly more than a few were quite tragic.
As we stare down at the arrival of 2018, and look back on all that has happened, I think about where I would like us to be as a people, as a world. I share this list of wishes in the hope that, this time next year, I can look back on it and say that we achieved these things. Or if not achieved, at least made tangible strides towards them.
Everyone and everything in this world should have plenty of water. Plenty to drink, plenty to cook with, plenty to bathe and clean with. Water is such a fundamental thing, such a necessity, yet so very many lack it. And what is unsettling to learn is that no one – no one – need to want for water. Drought is easily overcome with surprisingly little in the way of resources. And I don’t mean ‘flying in bottles of Aquafina’. I mean the digging of irrigation trenches and reservoirs, the building of aqueducts and wells. Worldwide, we have more than enough drinkable water for anyone, everyone, and everything. Thirst and drought are political tools, ones we cannot continue to allow to cost lives and quality of lives.
Millions starve, while crops rot in fields or sit untended. I’ve never understood how people can feel comfortable with the idea of others going without. I do not believe charity begets ‘laziness’, and the data backs me up. Even if it did, would that truly be so horrid a cost? How many must exploit a system before those who need it are not are rendered unworthy by mere association? The foundation of society is very likely built on food itself, access to it when one cannot provide it themselves. And like water, food is a resource that there is more than plenty of. Hunger, famine, and scarcity are constructs of social and political gain, not realities of the modern world.
This might be the hardest one, for it is the most amorphous. What is safety? How do you define it? How do you create it? How do you pursue it, and provide it? I don’t have these answers. But I do know that every person on this planet has a right to lay their head to sleep and not fear. I watched the stories come flooding out during the #metoo movement and I felt for these people – women and men – who felt their livelihood threatened by predators. Surrender their dreams and their careers, or surrender their own bodies. Not a deal any person should be forced to make. Children fear for their lives and for good reason. Families must march across borders, from one land to another, where they are not wanted, where they are turned away. Less than homeless, they are at the mercy of the wolves of the world. Not society that believes in justice and peace can stand by and do anything less than all to provide them safety.
Simple things, these. This will not upset the political landscape of the world, nor will it unseat any in power…save those who command based off of fear, sorrow, and misery. We do not live in a post-scarcity society yet, but that day is coming sooner than you realize. And however far off it may be, we are nowhere near the limits pessimists might have us believe. There is plenty, and to share. And for 2018, I would hope every person could eventually find the water they need, the food they want, and a good night’s rest.
What an amazing world that would be.