The Future: Coming Trends – by Marc Brenman

Advisory Board - Marc Brenman
ADR Advisor Marc Brenman

We don’t know yet what the future will bring. We never know what the future will bring. Analysts often say it’s a mistake to predict the future by extrapolating the trends of the past. The world is too complicated a place. With the current pandemic, it’s been “up jump the Devil.” But never in our lifetimes has a Devil occupied the White House. Will we forget an important lesson we should have learned—that Evil exists, and walks among us? I’ve said for years that many people believe in good, but deny that evil exists also. Yet there can be no good without evil.

Many of us are hoping for a mighty smiting rod wielded by Joe Biden to cleanse the temple of infidels. But no one knows how to convert the 48% of the American electorate who voted for Trump to a good and true path. The stone on which I stumble is always under my feet. I’m currently reading a new history of the Viet Nam wars by Max Hastings. He is clear that no one “deserved” to win; that evil, lies, stupidity, repression, oppression, and callousness were common on all sides. An old saying goes that when elephants fight, the ants get trampled. So perhaps one can predict more of the same.

Some bright spots include a new way of quickly developing highly effective vaccines. The albatross around the neck of such a hope is the high percent of anti-vaxxers, vaccine hesitant people, rightwing conspirators who think the virus is a hoax and an imposition on their liberty, African-Americans living in the past who compare everything to the tragic Tuskegee experiments, etc. There is almost no outreach to the least among us, the undocumented people, migrant workers, farmworkers, packing house workers, people with low literacy, people who speak a language other than English.

We can predict that technology will continue to affect and change our lives. And yet many people in rural areas don’t have a working Internet connection. About 30% of K-12 students didn’t even try to connect with their public school’s distance learning efforts.

We can predict that the hand-wringing over our newly rediscovered need for connection with other people will continue to be emphasized, at the same time many people continue to be little atoms, on their own planets, “communicating” via social media.

Nothing in the new developments ameliorates the terribly wide and harmful income and wealth inequality gap. The pandemic has had temporary benefits in reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. As soon as we move toward “normal,” they will return.

Another ray of light and hope has been the overwhelming response of the state and federal judiciary to the Republicans’ stupid, frivolous, and dangerous lawsuits alleging that the election was stolen from their evil idol. The courts in over 59 of 60 cases have essentially told the Republicans that their legal arguments are full of manure. Once again, the downside is that the federal judiciary is now overwhelmingly conservative, and the American Bar Association has sat on its hands and done nothing to discipline the nutty and contemptible Republican lawyers who have abused our legal system.

This last example points out a failure of powerful institutions in American society. Just as the American Psychological Association refused to discipline two of its members who wrote the guidebook for torture in the “War on Terror,” the ABA has done nothing good.

The greatest public university in the United States, the University of California at Berkeley, welcomed back John Yoo as a law school professor, even though he wrote the Department of Justice memo approving of torture as an instrument of state. To cleanse its hands, that law school changed its name from Boalt Hall because four generations ago, Mr. Boalt was a racist. It is easier, as many universities, cities, and corporations have found, to change the names to protect the guilty; to issue formulaic and ritualistic statements decrying racism, while not dealing with foundational and root issues that enable racism. As the Talking Heads said, “Same as it ever was, same as it never was.”

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