Imagine one day you receive an email and the subject reads: “Urgent”. You open it, and you find a message that says: Dear Mr X, we regret to inform you that your future and that of all humanity have been cancelled. So please put your plans aside and begin, as soon as possible, to make the appropriate arrangements”. Sender: The current state of the world, climate change and new variants of Coronavirus.
After a while, you realise that you have lived in a present time that has extended indefinitely for almost two years. You have already lost the desire to think and talk about it. If we remain silent when we think about the future, the future also remains silent when it looks at us from beyond.
Really, in this post-pandemic time, is there anyone who dares to think about the future?
The pandemic and its variants, fake news, the angry far-right crowds and all sort of pessimists have left us exhausted and exposed to the big black hole. The so-called futurologists and astrologers have disappeared from television shows, leaving a nostalgic void that is difficult to fill again.
And it’s not as if the world has stopped spinning. Quite the contrary: Wall Street is still up and running, the poor continue to crowd the streets searching for help to survive, and the rich are getting richer. Business as usual.
But along with that, the narrowing of the horizon has reached unthinkable extreme: we are left facing the eternal now of conspicuous consumption, while retrotopias are filling the future, that is, visions of what “could have happened if …”. Meanwhile, the lonely ones check their old phonebooks, and after several glasses of alcohol, decide to call their former lovers and, you know… “let’s try again.” This is the Ben and Jeniffer syndrome at its best. Everything in the past is better when there is no desire to look at the future.
If we have lost the ability to think about the future, who has it now? In other words, who controls the future while all this is happening?
Those who do not sleep have the future gripped in their hands. Because billionaires have not been wasting time, they have been travelling into space. Musk, Bezos, and Branson have been re-appropriating the future by expanding the geographic borders of the known world just as the European powers did in the seventeenth century during the golden age of colonial imperialism.
Whether it’s putting satellites into orbit, searching for minerals on Mars, or turning on surveillance cameras to destabilise governments, capitalism has given birth to a new variant of itself, in the hand of these billionaires who are reshaping the limits of the possible while everyone loses hope and seems to collapse.
None of us will travel to space anytime soon, but we do have ways to seize that future that has been cancelled for us in our own way. Imagine, be curious, dream, share, change, trust, fight for the right to live in a better world and dare to live as you think. “Walk in the eternal newness of life”, as a repentant man said centuries ago when the limits of the world were the limits of the Roman Empire. That really is looking at the future with your foot in the present! Maybe that’s a good way to start responding to that message after all.
(c) Photography by Sebastián Silva. https://la-periferia-interior.tumblr.com/