Back on January 1, 02000 I made a new millennium resolution. I gave up preparing for the end of the world. If the world ends, it’s going catch me by surprise.
I woke up to find my cupboard full of black beans and rice, canned milk and coffee and remembered that I’m really not partial to beans. The lights were on, the computer still worked, and Y2K was beginning pretty much like every New Year’s morning. Once again I’d bought into a doomsday scenario and some of my precious time on this earth had been utterly squandered getting ready for the end.
I’ve lived for a long time with a sense of impending cataclysm. It’s like static, an unpleasant background sound. Silent Spring, nuclear winter, over-population, deforestation, oil spills, herbicides, ground zero, ozone holes, economic collapse, greenhouse gases, space debris and an almost infinite variety deadly possibilities had me considering contingency plans. Even as I worked on projects to “save the world” I prepared for the end, just in case. It was always a waste of time.
The world hasn’t ended and that is an actual fact. I can’t say why the world hasn’t ended. Is it luck? Is it a miracle? Is the end of the world lurking nearby waiting to catch me in an unwary moment? Whatever! One thing is certain. Every moment I have ever spent pondering about or preparing for doomsday came right out of the hide of the next generation. Getting ready for Armageddon or creating an abundant Earth unto the seventh generation? Which shall it be?
An Antidote to Doomsday
The Long Now Foundation, established in 01996, hopes to provide a counterpoint to today’s accelerating culture, making long-term thinking more common and fostering responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years.
Founding board member Stewart Brand on the need for, and the mechanism by which, The Long Now Foundation is attempting to encourage long-term thinking.
“Civilization is revving itself into a pathologically short attention span. The trend might be coming from the acceleration of technology, the short-horizon perspective of market-driven economics, the next-election perspective of democracies, or the distractions of personal multi-tasking. All are on the increase. Some sort of balancing corrective to the short-sightedness is needed-some mechanism or myth which encourages the long view and the taking of long-term responsibility, where ‘long-term’ is measured at least in centuries. Long Now proposes both a mechanism and a myth.”