Just Around the Corner

I have always loved the idea of tomorrow, of what's just around the corner. But I have lived long enough to know that what's around the corner may simply be more - more greed, more hatred, more folly and more fury. How can the next species admire us, when we so intensely dislike ourselves? Maybe tomorrow's creatures, be they silicon-based,** or DNA-altered, or something yet to be conceived, won't like us either, won't want to admit that we gave birth to them. Maybe the species to come will create fairy tales, very grimm fairy tales, about their ancestors, because we won't be ancestors to admire. After all, can a species addicted to war be lovable or worthy of a place in memory?

The dictum of American liberty - "we hold these truths to be self-evident" - has become a discarded axiom, thrown out like yesterday's bath water. For those truths honored individual dignity, and were based on "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind". Opinions don't seem to matter anymore, especially if they get in someone's way. Aggression matters, stepping on others' toes, naked ambition, and endless greed. (As Formula One racer Lewis Hamilton said, "I exist to win".) "More" is the watchword: more money, more power, more bristle and break, "the logic of erratic excess".* What's missing around that corner now is a voice of reason, a calming Greek chorus of caution and experience, an echo of responsibility, not only to one's ego but to the grace of being alive, together, on a fragile planet. What's missing is an understanding that if we are to survive we must link hearts and minds in a joint effort to make things better, and not just better for ourselves. Perhaps the new Pope Francis said it best recently: The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us. ***

My own personal view of Around the Corner is now an illusion.

My Just Around the Corner is where the ugly duckling becomes a swan. It's where every piece, any piece, I create, becomes the next Mona Lisa and where the weight of seventy-nine years miraculously disappears from aging bones. My Just Around the Corner carries hope and possibility, beauty and honor, ethics and kindness. It's a place where differences are honored and ideas other than our own can hold sway. It's where Christmas and Kwanzaa clasp hands, Jesus twirls a dreidl, and Buddha breaks bread with atheists.

But in truth, Just Around the Corner lie the ghosts of Nagasaki and the babies of Dachau. It's now the land of brash knuckles, the graveyard of compassion.

Just Around the Corner lies the conscience of today, because we don't seem to have any.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2013

*quoted by Slavoj Zizek in Letters to and from Prison - see our current Site of the Month.

**Perhaps we will morph into "Qubits" of information.

***A recent symposium at the Harvard Law School, with brilliant experts in the fields of governance and justice, attracted only a slim attendance, reinforcing Pope Francis' message.