Preparing for our 21st

It has been suggested in the media that, due mainly to the influence of the Internet, we will see more change in the next 20 years than has occurred in the previous 200. But a far more reaching and profound “innernet” revolution is likely to herald more change in the next 20 years than has occurred in the last 2000.

If we look to the development of the human race as being analogous to that of a child we can observe many striking parallels in behavior with those of children and adolescents the world over. The destructive, warring tendency of tribes, communities and nations over the last few millennia has been (in an analogous sense) the behavior of unruly adolescents in a dysfunctional family. It has been the stage of development at which the adolescent becomes assertive, independent and objective (pre-occupied with technological, material development). The wars that we have observed have been, by and large, fights among siblings in a global family. As a race we have had frequent fights in the “school playground” and on a few occasions those fights have involved the whole “school” (planet).

We are now on the threshold of adulthood, marked by the acceptance of individual and collective responsibility for the world that we experience. We are on the verge of taking an active role in building a better, more cooperative “neighborhood.” Using the global communications infrastructure (Internet, mobile telephony etc.) we are now able to keep abreast of latest developments in our “global village.” We are increasingly required (either directly or indirectly) to participate in the day to day commercial and political concerns of this “global village.”

The use of technology has been much like learning to drive a motor-vehicle. We haven’t really understood what makes the car run. Instead we have been primarily concerned with operating the vehicle and using it for our convenience. In an analogous sense, we have depressed some pedals, pushed some levers and marvelled at the result. We’ve even had time and sufficient skill to sit back and admire the passing scenery as we travel in the latest model, ever more powerful and sophisticated.

But now we’re driving powerful vehicles at such a speed that the passing scenery is becoming blurred — we’re no longer taking the time to admire the world around. Worse, we may well be careening out of control, not fully aware of where the vehicle is headed.

Despite all our technological conveniences, many people feel a lack of purpose and fulfillment. Depression (when recognized as being a contributing factor in heart disease) is now acknowledged by the World Health Organization as being the number one cause of disability. Many are realizing that technology cannot save us from our own demons.

Throughout the ages, there have been those (spiritual leaders, prophets, poets and writers) who have understood and explained, to those interested, the “inner workings” of our “motor-vehicle” and the surrounding countryside. They have taken an active role in sharing their insights by suggesting that we might have more to do with the passing scenery than simply being a back-seat passenger—that we might not only be the driver of the “car” but the car itself. And that the passing scenery is in our control. We can apply the brakes if so needed or hit the accelerator to move into new, more interesting enriching “neighborhoods.”

This book shares some of those insights. As with any teachings, they are able to be applied for real effect. They are applicable in the everyday world. However, just like learning to drive, the initial learning can be taxing. But as many of us who drive vehicles can appreciate, the initial difficulties we experience with learning are, in the end, very much worth the ensuing freedom and control.

Stephen Pirie
April 29, 2000