Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Way The Future Used To Be

Last night, perhaps because I had watched this video of two people lucky enough to enjoy a summer ride in Amsterdam, chatting about the bike culture in that city and in Copenhagen, I wondered where the future had gone.
I still was mulling over thoughts I'd had since my previous post on the surveillance creeping into our lives (proudly Foucault-free, and that took work); that kind of Orwellian future is more than fulfilling its promise daily, but what about the other one ? No one would be hungry. People would be sheltered, the old cared for, our land used well. I suddenly pictured myself old and simultaneously felt time running out and against me. One day, we will, no doubt, have high speed trains carrying us throughout the country as a matter of course. Roads and paths and trails will make it possible for us to bike and walk and otherwise locomote around our towns and cities without having to start up the car each time. I felt a real sense of despair for this country, for possibilities lost, resources mispent, potential of what is still a young country unfulfilled and sidetracked. A few months ago, I was in line at the drug store when a quite elderly woman mentioned to the pharmacist that she was really debating continuing a medication or not, since the price kept going up (she did buy it). When I came up to the counter, the pharmacist admiringly mentioned that the woman was ninety-five years old. On principle, I thought, if you make it to ninety, you ought to get a break. You should get your medicine free, your property taxes abated. By eighty, you should be getting a pretty steep discount. Proper care and comfort at the end of life should be a given, not a privilege. The theme of this post, I suppose, is that it would really take very little for us to make life easier for each other, wouldn't it ? Alas, that future has not yet arrived, but in glimpses at life in one place or another, we see that it is possible now. Ever the optimist, if I make it to ninety or so, I fully intend to haul myself, my artificial hips, vat grown organs and longevity-enhanced cats onto those clean-running high velocity trains if I have to crawl off my Segwacycle.

Afterthoughts: I really debated posting this at all. I don't usually rant, and have done something akin to that in this post and the last. And I am fully aware of the intracies of argument and political theories that lie behind what I have casually presented here. It was the despair and the hope raised by the particulars that was the catalyst here (are you really telling me that we can't make a wide shoulder on every road built in America and mark it for non-car use: pedestrians, bikes, non/motorized wheelchairs, slow scooters, and, yes, Segways ? I mean, how hard could that really be ??). Okay. Enough. To bed. Il faut cultiver notre jardin. (Sorry.)

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