Letter to the Future. IX - No One Narrative

No One Narrative

22 January 2011

To Future,
I promise I'll only request this of you when its absolutely necessary:  go to a library or a book store and find the section of such place devoted to quantum physics.  If you run your fingers through the dust on publications of 2010 and the first months of 2011 you'll discover titles like The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos by Brian Greene.  Like others in this scientific moment, they deal with the question and disagreements of quantum reality.  With super colliders and miles of mathematics, they're attempting to venture into the space which holds the last fragile whispers of our truest creation story.  Their ears are pressed to the wall of the atom, and what they're hearing is remarkable if not unbelievable.  Today's physics suggests the history of the universe, the history of yourself and myself, indeed, even the history of the photon which brings my words off the pages to your eyes, is not exactly what we think it is.  At least, its not only what we think it is.  It's postulated that our universe is one of many or one of an infinitude, and that each subatomic substance we know of, and will one day know of, travels through those infinite universes on every path possible.  In short, the smallest pieces of us, and so also 'us' as the sum of those pieces, have infinite histories, having traveled infinite paths, in order to arrive in the now.

Even physicists are finding no one narrative does justice to our stories.

I suspect that the last two years will be remembered more for how the following six years frame them than for a legacy unto themselves.  As I write to you, the world is just more than a month removed from an American election dominated by anger and impatience.  Of late there has been talk of a lost America, led into its decline by a President bent on bringing the dawn of American socialism.  No doubt I could spew volumes on this meme.  I'm disappointed in my countrymen for being so shortsighted and self-oriented; I'm nervous for our future competitiveness in a world economy paced by sprinting China; I'm not entirely sure what place peple who think as I do have in the modern America.

But as I will in the future, I want to leave you with a simpler point.  Put down the Koolaid.  With one party having a tantrum in the corner and the other presumably observing a vow of silence, President obama is making ground on the agenda of profound change he promised to pursue.  Our country has finally started to realize an opportunity at universal healthcare, in the face of absurdity from the opposition (re: death panels) and crippling timidity from the left.  He's initiated negotiations (albeit, mostly symbolic) over the future role of nuclear weapons in the dealings of super powers.  Perhaps most importantly, he is evidence of a logical and person-prioritizing political body still in existence.  The majority of his colleagues in both houses seem either spineless and unwilling to claim principles they've earlier touted or utterly bought over by the mobs of Americans who suggest little else than lower taxes without managing to expound on what "give us liberty" means. 

In these years I've started to realize - if only a little - what it is to feel as though future accounts of history will not accurately remember the time in which you're living.  The 24-hour news cycle is good for nothing but the dependable manufacturing of uneeded drama.  Sprung from this is a culture of hyperbole and imagined injury, wherein a person that speaks of equity and opportunity for all Americans to escape poverty or curable illness is essentially thrusting the country into a Soviet identity of the 1970's.  "Socialism" in my time is not synonymous with "to each according to his need" but with a plot constructed by the intellectual elite which attempts to perpetrate mutiny in the American economy, conquering the business class for a yet unrevealed but dangerously socialist imperative.  We've stopped investing in thoughtfulness and it not only dictates the spirit of the country and the constitution of its legislature but gives tone to the historical reckoning of this decade. 

And so I say again, let the rhetoric sink only so deep. From my vantage, America's redemption depends on leadership as rare as that I know Mr. Obama is capable of.  Accompanying this leadership and taking a lion's share of the national burden for progress must be generations of thinkers both skeptical of monosyllabic synopses of America's problems and native to the creation of original idea under the assumptions of hope and non-oppressive living. This, Future, is you.  It will be your burden soon enough.  The generation before me has long devoted itself to systems of consumption and governance that fail us, and mine is on the brink of that same misplaced devotion.  It has nothing to do with a socialist President but everything to do with an instinct for lazy analysis. 

How can we ease suffering, and meet unmet need?  How do we push a nation out of coma into waking?  I think we must start with thoughtfulness, that power of ours offering to lift us out of self-involvement.  Imagine suffering, imagine struggle, imagine wealth that would make you feel truly rich and the currency traded therein, imagine you understand oppression and imagine what revolution could feel like.  Thoughtfulness frees you even from mistaken history, and so from over-simplified diagnoses of the present.  Thoughtfully read your histories, Future, and know your pasts never fit neatly into a singular narrative.  Live awake and free.

- Erik in the past

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