Predicting the Future

Call it analysis of trends, divination, speculation or anything else for that matter, predicting the future is something that occupies a lot of people’s attention. What we do now depends a great deal on what we imagine the consequences might be. Sometimes our collective imaginations seem woefully lacking. We’re collectively rather good at imagining wonderful things, and loathe to see the dangers. We don’t want to hear what our self indulgence is going to cost, or to believe that we can’t have everything, gift wrapped in plastic.

Who could have predicted that the banking system would go so wildly wrong? I did. I was saying years ago that the levels of personal debt weren’t sustainable, that the mortgage situation wasn’t clever. I didn’t know about the house of cards built on these things, but I can say with confidence it did not take a genius to see where the problems were. It does not take a genius to figure out that you can’t have an economic system based on ideas of perpetual growth when you only have finite resources, yet politics and business run on as though infinite growth is both possible and desirable.

I’ve worked with fortune telling over the years, and the one thing I’ve learned as a certainty is this: We shape the future in the present. Every decision made today informs the options we have tomorrow. Often in ways that we don’t imagine. The smallest choice can have the most enormous fallout. And then there’s all the things we choose not to do, and all their consequences. Each one of us is helping to shape what the future might be, closing down some possibilities, opening up others.

The biggest mistake you can make, as an individual or at more collective levels, is to imagine that what you do now won’t limit what you can do later. The future is not some distant shining thing where it’s all going to be just fine. The future is born of now. What exactly are we shaping? What will this moment give birth to? What will it kill?

If we borrow money, resources, options from the future, we have to pay that back sometime, or our children do. If for the sake of the financial present, we take more than any of us can afford, and we delay fixing expensive problems, we will pay, and pay again, and pay with interest. Debts do not go away if we put our fingers in our ears, close our eyes, sing loudly and pretend we owe nothing. And not just the financial debts that are causing so much difficulty, but our borrowings from the environment, from a planet that is not going to be able to bank us indefinitely if we go on consuming like this.

Every choice we make is an ethical one. Even the small decisions that do not seem important. Every single thing we do has consequences. We are shaping the future, now, with what we do, and decline to do. Frankly that worries me. I see too many individuals, too many politicians and other folks in positions of power, so obsessed with immediate gain that they are blind to longer term costs. We are going to have to pay. Our children and grandchildren are going to have to pay. The planet and every other living thing on it is going to be made to pay for our greed and short term attitudes. We are shaping the future now. And really, we need to get this right.

6 thoughts on “Predicting the Future”

  1. Thanks, Bryn, such a good post.

    You say, “We shape the future in the present. Every decision made today informs the options we have tomorrow.” Newton’s law of cause and effect – every action has an equal and opposite reaction – aka “karma”. Newton was an alchemist as well as a scientist and gets horribly misinterpreted nowadays. The Earth works on this law of interaction, particle physics does too, see Schoedinger’s Cat, the only way anything happens is by interaction, I/thou, duality to use eso-speak LOL. Another PhD in the bleedin’ obvious.

    And the use of choice … Ragnall’s wedding … every choice we make sets our feet on one path instead of another. The lore of magic knows and works with this, so does real science but politics is ruled by our childish emotional wants.

    You say, “What will this moment give birth to? What will it kill?” and “The planet and every other living thing on it is going to be made to pay for our greed and short term attitudes”. This is so true. I too see the headlong rush to have what we want without any thought to consequences. People, children don’t seem to be taught that they can’t have everything, and certainly not now, and that what they choose affects everyone and everything else … including Mother Earth. And without Mother Earth’s support we will all die.

    I don’t see any sign of change in human attitudes overall, we’re still largely selfish, we want life to be easy, to get more goodies and throw away the ones we’re tired of. We need to change this attitude … but that will hurt and we don’t like being hurt! When will parents learn to say “no” to their kids, suffer the ensuing tantrum and come out the other side with better boundaries all round … including financial boundaries and ecological ones? You’re right, Bryn, we need to change, to get this right.

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  2. I use to live in Las Vegas, one of the greediest cities on the planet. Fun place if you are a tourist, if you live there, not so much. I watched my pretty, middle class neighborhood, that had all of the potential in the world to be a lovely place for first time home buyers become an overpriced bubble waiting to burst.

    Within four short years, my $310,000 appraised home, which I could have reasonably sold for around $250,000-$270,000 had the market maintained steady growth, dropped so low in value because of the massive foreclosure rate in that town ($125,000 and still falling from August, 2009) I couldn’t sell it. I was a sane homeowner, had a 30 year fixed interest rate of 5.5%, a small 2nd on the house to consolidate bills (also a fixed interest rate at 30 years) and was still well below $200,000 in mortgage loans.

    Sub-prime mortgage loans were given to illegal aliens (the Earthling kind 😉 ), sub-prime mortgage loans were given to people making $10 an hour, no one’s income was verified, the later homeowners were given carte blanche loans that were not sustainable.

    My hubs and I were checked and re-checked in terms of credit prior to moving into our home, which was our first. By the time we wanted to sell our home, it sat on the market for over a year before we had to make the heart breaking decision to let it go because it was unsellable. My point is this…the demanding, childish, I want I want I want attitude caused the entire melt down. Banks created this scenario in order to make a ton of profit, hence the reason Goldman Sachs is paying HUGE fines for this high risk venture, then when stuck with the inevitable toxic assets that resulted from their fast profit, these same companies had the gall to whine to our government they needed help and innocent homeowners like myself who had a dream, did what it took to make that dream come true, suffered the consequences of that greed. Bottom line is owning a home, achieving certain “haves” are privileges earned from being mature and responsible, they are not “rights”.

    I agree 100% it seems as though the more things change the more things stay the same. Avarism is still alive and well in humanity and the Me-First attitude is gaining ever more ground. That’s why I believe in the power of the individual, one person can effect things for the better and with one, there will be more. Once critical mass is reached, maybe one day the prevailing attitudes of humanity can change for the better, time will tell.

    Erin

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  3. Thank you Elen for your works, Erin for sharing your experiences. It seems to me profoundly wrong that folk who try to act honourably are so often put at a disadvantage by systems designed for people who are greedy and careless. But yes, as individuals we can and will make a difference.

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  4. Bryn,

    I’ve been saying for years (decades, really) that our futures and ultimate endings are shaped by what we do in the here and now. And I agree that people have allowed greed and materialism to overtake their lives, pushing aside thoughts of the consequences for the immediate gratification of “Me, me, me.. Now, now, now.”

    However, I would add one thing to what you have to say. Just as the physical actions (or lack thereof) of the present ultimately shape our future, so do the ATTITUDES of the present. If all we do is focus on the negative, we generate an excessive pool of negative energy, which can equally destroy our chances for a future.

    There’s a balance to be found here, where we maintain both an understanding of the responsibilities we’re given as Stewards of the Earth (hence, understanding our actions and their consequences), and the enthusiasm to see life for its possibilities, rather than its pitfalls and dooms.

    My wish is both that people wake up a little more to how their actions impact the world at large, and that people quit predicting utter doom, and start looking at how we might start changing the world for the better, rather than consigning ourselves to the great hereafter and a terrible demise.

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    1. Esther,

      Overall, I agree with you. Since I’ve moved to Green Country, OK, it is a much slower pace here and core values (family, kindness to strangers, generosity, etc.) are abundant. I am reminded in small doses everyday there is possibility and potential and abundance, one just has to see it.

      Erin

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  5. Esther, that’s a very good point and thanks for making it. It is easier to talk about the doom and gloom than it is to find solutions, but I should start writing about more positive action and ways of creating and dreaming better futures. Thank you for the prod!

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