Thursday, August 27, 2009


“All of us will live on in the future we make.”

—Senator Edward. M. Kennedy (1932-2009)

When I ask myself again why I am now devising and teaching a course about “Human Frontiers,” aimed at anticipating the new territories that humanity will inhabit (metaphorically speaking) in the future, I find an answer in Ted Kennedy’s words above.

I find two answers. One is that we can help make the future; it doesn’t simply befall us. The other is that, to the extent that each of us contributes personally to the creation of better ways of living in the coming decades, as did the just-departed senator from Massachusetts, we’ll be remembered for our deeds.

And it’s a good time now to make our contributions to a brighter future, since, more than ever, as the old song says, “The times, they are a-changin’.” These are times of major shifts: cosmological, ecological, economical, governmental, cultural, and personal. Much is in flux. New ways and institutions are forming and reforming. And each of us gets to choose whether to dig in and resist the changes or hop on board and help steer global civilization toward the Frontier of Sanity.

It’s our prime concern in this course to imagine as clearly as we can what a sane and wise society would be. We can take heart from the progress humanity has already made (in some regions more than others) in building social systems that help people realize their potentials for healthy growth and development, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

We can also be encouraged that our Earth itself is winning more respect from us, rather than being regarded as a planet to plunder. We are growing wiser ecologically in recognizing Earth as a delicately balanced living system (which some name “Gaia,” after an ancient goddess, “Mother Earth”). To the extent that we tamper willfully and rapaciously with her ecology, we invite disaster. But we seem to be wising up somewhat now and rectifying our recklessness.

Your job, my job, our job together this term is to think for ourselves and seek in our readings for clearer ideas of the global society that needs to shape up in the future we’re making. Imagine that.