I had no idea what the trigger might be to cause me to write this post, nevertheless I was certain that it would soon become apparent. And there it was, and article on politico.com entitled “How Trump makes us feel.” According to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, 13% of people surveyed decided to delay or to make the decision to not have children.
Why title this post “Behind Closed Doors?” It would surprise me if there weren’t a lot of elder orphans (or potential ones) who have had a conversation with their spouses or partners about the future, and the concerns that we would have for our children and grandchildren if we were fortunate enough to have any. It is however never a conversation that we initiate with our friends who have kids; unless of course they introduce the subject.
In recent comments by Stephen Hawking, the preeminent physicist, he has changed his outlook on the future of mankind to suggest that a catastrophic event for the human race is imminent. Not so long ago he was suggesting that in order to preserve earthlings we should be focusing on colonizing another planet in the next thousand years. Now he is view is that it should be more like 100 years.
According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists that publishes the Doomsday Clock, it’s now 2 ½ minutes to “midnight”, suggesting that the end of humanity may be near.
When we do engage in these conversations about the future prospects, it inevitably comes up that in their time our parents probably had a lot of concerns about our future too. Perhaps I was isolated from the consequences of the possibility of a nuclear holocaust but I look back on those days in the 50’s and 60’s as rather halcyon times. Yes, I recall that air-raid sirens were installed and tested throughout the land, and underground bunkers were constructed but I was never counseled to dive under a desk when the siren was activated. Perhaps our parents decided that if a nuclear war were to occur it would all be over quickly. If you survived the blast, the radiation would finish you off soon enough anyway. I suppose too that they looked upon it as completely out of their control, and in the hands of the politicians and the military.
Contrast this with the constant drip, drip, drip of today’s threats. The environment and global warming are high on the list. Whether you agree with all but a handful of climatologists and scientists that it is caused by humans or not, it is still a fact of life. We can expect more droughts and floods and I recently read that the oceans are rising much faster than was predicted just a few years ago. Then there are the social issues. The political left and right factions are coming to blows and protests abound; terrorism is a constant threat. . People all over the world are dying as a result of religious/political differences. The nuclear threat has never really disappeared but lately it has surfaced as a distinct danger on more than one front.
We are now learning about the likelihood that a huge group of people will arise who are referred to as the “Useless Class”. These are the people who will soon be replaced by robots and highly intelligent computers. What will become of them?
According to Oxfam the richest 1% now has as much wealth as the rest of the world combined. They also calculated that the richest 62 people in the world had as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population. Those who control the money also control the resources. What are the consequences of this trend?
Two years ago Stephen Hawking told the BBC that the development of full artificial intelligence, could spell the end of the human race. His was not the only voice warning of the dangers of Artificial Intelligence. Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Steve Wozniak also expressed their concerns about where the technology was heading – though Professor Hawking’s was the most apocalyptic vision of a world where robots decide they don’t need us any more.
Although I’m sure that we can conjure up many more potential threats I’ll conclude this discussion with the mention of global pandemics. Experts warn us that we are in the position for a perfect storm for the viral emergence of a global infectious disease.
My disposition is normally that of a “glass is half full” person, and from a personal perspective I am optimistic that I as a Baby Boomer will not be alive long enough to experience the results of these calamities but I confess that do have concerns for the Gen Xers, the Millennials, and their children.
Have you had these conversations behind closed doors?