The future never turns out the way we envision. Back in the '60s, when I was in elementary school, the future was epitomized by "The Jetsons." Everything was going to be sleek, fast, and cool. Problems were going to be trivial compared to the technologies we would be able to bring to bear on them.
In the '70s, there were hints that in our future, the world was headed for globalization. The progressive idea was about eliminating international tensions and utilizing available resources to improve the average condition of all the world's people. Environmentalism was at the forefront in people's minds at this stage. Compassion was embraced as common sense.
In the '80s, technological advancements, to include the genesis of personal computing, started to actually shrink the gaps and spaces between the world's cultures. And it was of course the emerging global economy and the sudden demise of the Cold War mindset that threw popular perception of the future onto a whole other level.
The '90s saw geopolitical advances that tried to keep pace with the continuing techno-compression of the collage of global cultures. The corporatization of life everywhere seemed to be driving us toward a future that would eventually blur the boundaries between our differences. We would all one day get along because we would all be the same, watching, thinking, buying, eating, and believing the same things, wherever we happened to be on the earth. "Don't worry. Be Happy."
Then the long-anticipated new millenium and the false fear of Y2K chaos surely implied a bright and sunny future for all. No regrets, keep on stoking the global engines of progress as we understood them to mean. We think we can, we think we can ...
But then, we seemed to reach the end of the pavement. The bumps and potholes started to jostle us around and indeed we had to overhaul our collective view of the future because a small but menacing segment of the global population did not like where the future was taking us. Violence on innocence entered the equation.
The future suddenly was put on hold.
The war on terror, we are reminded continuously, will be a long-term struggle. The segment of radical Islam that is inexplicably growing its core base of adherents to wage war with a future of commercial and cultural pluralism is a large shadowy enemy that leaves few targets for our sophisticated political and military sensibilities.
But how much time do we have to adapt to the new reality? At stake is the future and the power to envision it. The enemy seeks to define what life and death on this planet should be about. How long before we come to grips with the dangerous intent and growing potential rolling toward our best laid plans?
It will take another major assault on our comfortably superior way of life ... probably one far worse than we care to even imagine today before we become willing to do what needs to be done. So we are allowing the enemy time ... essentially giving away this precious time to those who are investing it in creating an abominable future for all of us.