No Future?

culture Sep 17, 2019

There was an article in the New Yorker magazine a couple of years ago called, Doomsday prep for the super-rich. It was one of a slew of articles that have emerged in various media outlets over the past couple of years that have addressed the ways in which even the incredibly wealthy among us are feeling a certain anxiety about the future. 

It’s difficult to avoid all the crisis talk that fills the airwaves: climate change, debt, food deserts, clean water, masses of discarded plastic filling the oceans, populism nationalism, racism, shootings, stabbings, the list goes on and on. And apparently it is not just the poor and the middle-class who are feeling the pressures and concerns of all this, we all seem to have lost sight of the future. 
 
I am old enough to remember when there was still an enthusiasm for the future, when it heralded a better life, a better world for all. That seems like such a long time ago now. Somewhere along the way we seem to have collectively lost our faith in the future and the present we find ourselves in is a time marked by feelings of uncertainty, anxiety and despair. And the rich are apparently using their resources to plot escape routes. People are buying land in remote places, stockpiling provisions, building homes in isolated areas equipped with generators, solar panels and everything they need in order to survive the impending apocalypse. It’s like Y2K panic all over again, except that this time, it’s not just a fear of technological collapse, but the collapse of everything that seems to be on everyone’s mind. 
 
Wishing to escape is a very human response to challenging times and we try to do what we can to find a route out of our troubles. But there might be other ways of thinking about this.
 
In the 1970s the Sex Pistols prophetically sang that there is No Future, and since that song hit the airwaves we have witnessed a sense of the future progressively disappearing from our collective consciousness. Whatever future we imagined for ourselves seems to have evaporated and we are left with a lack of clarity about things will look like given all the upheaval that surrounds us.
 
In the story of the Transfiguration, Jesus’ closest friends witness an amazing encounter and want to build a monument on the site and make it a place of pilgrimage and retreat. In some sense they seem to want an escape from the hardships of life and to bask in the light of this revelatory moment. But Jesus has other ideas. He leads them back down the mountain, back to the world, to ordinary existence where life is dominated by uncertainty and anxiety. He calls them to live in the dust of an uncertain world and to bring a different future to it.
 
Here at Hatchery we are fond of saying that the future is unwritten. In fact that sentiment shapes the final portion of our online course on spiritual entrepreneurship. If you’re interested in working out what your ‘unwritten future’ might look like, you might consider joining us for our next online cohort which launches September 26th. 
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