Friday, May 20, 2016

Could happen

A professor of chemistry said the other day, that he didn't care too much where a person was from or what he looked like but that what mattered was what contribution a person could make.

I taught a course that tried to consider the future.  Of course, that is impossible.  There are many developments that cannot be foreseen.  But the last part of the book "Sapiens" by Yuval N. Harari does one of the best jobs I have seen.  He basically sees a unification of the planet's humans.  I know we fear each other and hate each other and worry about dishonesty and unethical behavior but I wouldn't be surprised if we do manage sometime to cooperate and enjoy each other.  We may come to see that we can all contribute to the creation of fuller, richer lives.

Ok, we are animals and we need the basics: food, shelter and clothing.  Many animals do with just food and shelter or home base or a nest but we generally need clothing, too.  Besides the basics, it seems that we have two further needs: travel (beyond our ability to walk, run or hobble) and communication.  Sure, the other animals call and challenge and warn but we want to chat - about the weather, the neighbors, the pain in my back.  We like to make up tales and tell them.

If you think about the development of communication, of writing, of reading and of bringing those activities and tools into peoples' lives, you can see the sort of spread and growth that has been happening.  Go back a thousand years, and you touch on scribes, specialists who could make marks on one material or another that they or other specialists could quickly decode.  Handy for government, tax rolls, and such but an art above the commoner.  Now, we not only teach such coding and de-coding to little children, we have them using tablets and the internet.  Sure, a big section of humans have not yet seen a tv but a bigger section has.  Before the 1700's, we didn't have much in the way of writing specifically for children.  Now, we do and plenty of it.  

We have Google Translate that can communicate in 60 or more languages.  We have a Korean author of "The Vegetarian" translated by a 26 year old English woman winning the Booker Prize for a novel in English.  (From its inception, only Commonwealth, Irish, and Zimbabwean citizens were eligible to receive the prize; in 2013, however, this eligibility was widened to any English language novel.  Note: Irish ?  Zimbabwean?).  We have the noted writer Indian-American Princeton professor Jhumpa Lahiri writing in Italian for the challenge and the fun of it and then being translated into English by Ann Goldstein.

We have signs of better communication and understanding among us all.  We may achieve some wonderful things yet.  Let's make Earth great again!

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