Many of us of the ‘older generation’ remember a time before the internet, before the digital age. People actually sent hand written letters and hoped for a reply in a few weeks. Air travel was a big deal. Television was only during afternoon and evening, if that. The rest of the time you viewed a test pattern. Everyone got a read a morning or evening newspaper. When you went to the movies the preliminary short subjects always included a news reel summary of world and national news. In brief, the pace of life and living was much slower than today. In fact, the pace of life and living for all of humanity has been much slower and the human race has evolved accordingly.
Today communication is almost instantaneous. Our smart phones keep us connected to the news and our social networks. News outlets abound. All hardcopy, from letters, to newspapers, to currency are in decline, replaced by a digital counterpart. Transactions are near instantaneous. ‘Apps’ on our smart devices and computers take the time out of previously time consuming tasks. They even take the ‘thought’ out of previously mentally taxing endeavors.
Technology is driving the increased pace of our lives. With the conveniences enabled by technology also comes problem, challenges and risk. The digital environment brings ever present risk of identity theft, computer hacking and digital fraud, worldwide secure communication and terrorist plots. We are continuously faced with new information, new circumstances and the need for new solutions. This is true at all levels from personal, to family, to community, to nation, to global.
Climate change is accelerating. It effects us in multiple ways. Severe storms disrupt and dislocate people. Agricultural areas are changing. Forests are changing due to insect infestation.
Immigration and refugees are on the rise. Climate change with coastal flooding as well as terrorism and ethnic conflicts promise to keep the trend in tact and probably increase.
All of this change is coming at an ever increasing rate. If any trend were to be spread over a decade or a generation our society and global societies would deal with the impact. Unfortunately that is not the case. Immigrants and refugees are accused of taking jobs away from our citizens. Climate effects are straining budgets and taking resources from social welfare programs. The pressures are resulting in impulsive decisions in our democracy, not the debate and concerns for all peoples. Citizens are becoming polarized and putting our democratic processes at risk.
What to do? Not easy. However, one thing is clear – government must take the lead. Things on the agenda include 1) policy to minimize climate change, 2) policy to help workers when industries are relocated, off-shored or automated, 3) the creation of affordable and accessible education and skills training, and 4) compassionate and economy friendly immigration policy. For government to embrace this reality it needs citizen representatives that are committed to finding solutions to today’s reality. My role and yours – be active in helping to make this happen.