I'm from the future. So are you. We all live in the future. The time that we all looked forward to with great anticipation since we were kids and we read, with shining eyes, Jules Verne or Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke. When we turned on Flash Gordon or The Jetsons or Back to the Future.
And it’s come on so gradually that most of us haven’t even noticed that, according to Arthur C. Clarke, we were supposed to have commercial shuttles to the moon and deep space travel sixteen years ago. But even life on earth isn’t what we expected. Do you realize that two years ago was when Marty McFly visited the future of Hill Valley, to marvel at the hover cars (and hover boards) and the interactive talking houses of 2015?
Smart phones and Google Glasses notwithstanding, the future isn’t what a lot of us expected. But even more than the flashy gadgets that the movies and futuristic reading material promised us, many of us are disappointed by the issues that still plague us on a more fundamental level.
The ongoing wars and conflicts and suicide bombings and despotic dictators have become so commonplace that we often shake our heads and sigh when we hear the reports, then go on with whatever we were doing. We think ‘that’s too bad and I’m sorry,’ but we feel helpless to change anything about it. Because there’s little that most of us can do.
But what about right here in our own area? I’m amazed at how backwards and archaic ‘the future’ is in a number of ways here in America.
Back in 2014, Emma Watson, Hermione from the Harry Potter movies, and newly-appointed UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, delivered a speech before the United Nations. And the contents of that speech have been called all kinds of glorious adjectives, stopping just short of ‘revolutionary.’ (Maybe it has been called that and I just missed it.)
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not casting aspersions on her speech by any means. It was an excellent speech (and can be seen and heard here. Her words were moving and eloquent, her nervous, shaky delivery sweet and endearing.
My problem is that we live in the twenty-first century and we still have to discuss gender inequality, not to mention issues involving racial prejudice, religious intolerance, violent nationalistic fervor, political bickering, bullying, etc. Why haven’t we gotten beyond these things yet? Treating somebody differently just because of something as elemental as the arrangement of chromosomes in their cells, or genetic variations that determine the color of a person’s skin and the texture of their hair? These things should have been settled and put aside ages ago!
It’s been a century and a half since the end of the American Civil War. And yet a century after that, race was still enough of an issue that Martin Luther King’s efforts to battle racial inequality through nonviolence were noteworthy enough to win him the Nobel Peace Prize. And a half century after that, we’re still struggling with it.
And women, roughly half our population, are still being treated as if they were below-average citizens. Those who scrape and struggle to positions traditionally occupied by men still earn considerably less than the men in those corresponding positions. Women are viewed as rape bait by an astonishing number of men. The fact that so many respected men (and some not so respected) are being accused of improper treatment of women doesn’t help. And women are targets of various other kinds of violence by men.
Again, this should have been taken care of long ago!
In 1970, Alvin Toffler wrote a book called Future Shock. The title came from the psychological state that he defined as a personal perception of too much change in too short a period of time.
Well, technology has brought about a lot of change in the past decades. (Although I am still waiting for my personal robot assistant and my shuttle ride.) But some things haven’t changed nearly enough. The fact that Emma Watson even needed to deliver her speech to the United Nations, or launch the HeforShe movement, is evidence of that.
Ever since I first actually thought about it years ago, I’ve considered myself a feminist. That’s not to say that I have brought about any kind of change. I’ve actually done very little, I’m sorry to say, to improve the plight of women, aside from providing encouragement to individuals or offering my opinions in support of women and equality issues.
But after watching Emma Watson’s speech I joined the movement of HeforShe, to speak up and support women’s issues. HeforShe is, according to the web site, a “solidarity movement for gender equality that brings together one half of humanity in support of the other of humanity, for the entirety of humanity.” I was the 115,811th man to take the commitment. The web site said, “Help us reach number 100,000.” The fact that I was nearly 16,000 above that was encouraging! (Too many occurrences during the past year are, unfortunately, anything but encouraging. But when I checked the web site just now, the number stood at 1,303,546,829.
And I’m taking a little more action by writing this blog entry that has nothing at all to do with any of my books.
The whole idea of HeforShe is for men and boys to step up and support gender equality. According to the web site, “Gender equality is not only a women’s issue, it is a human rights issue that requires my participation. I commit to take action against all forms of violence and discrimination faced by women and girls.”
Who knows? If we can eliminate some of these silly and outdated arguments that take up so much of our time and attention, maybe we can get back on track with where we should be now, in the future.
After all, I'm still waiting for my jet pack!