Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hope for Tomorrow

I have on my coffee table a LOOK Magazine dated January 16, 1962. The publication is a special issue titled, “The Next 25 Years”. In it, several scientists, specialists, and other notables give their predictions for what life will be like in 1987.

Here are a few of the thoughts and expectations for the future:

“I hope that world peace will have become secure… I would expect the world to blush with shame to recall that, three decades earlier, a human being was graded by the color of his skin and degraded if that color was not white. I would expect the Christian era to begin.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“In 25 years, either our lovely earth will be a charred lump of rubble circling the sun, or we shall all be well on the way to universal peace. I believe it will be peace. There is no room for anything else; certainly no room for war…Asia and Africa will become equal partners in the work of the world…Class and race distinction will have disappeared.” Sean O’Casey—Irish Playwright

“The quality of music in the smallest hamlet of the United States will equal that in the world’s capitals. Every library will have facilities for playing recorded music, plays, novels, and poetry—the sounds of living history and voices of the great men of our time…The separation between music of the theatre and music of the opera will become less apparent over the next 25 years.” Richard Rodgers—composer

“As a cautious optimist, I believe the world will be at peace in 1987. But the pessimist in me suggests that this peace may be preceded by conflict. If war occurs, I trust that it will at last give us a true perspective on its futility as a means of settling disagreements between nations.” Frank Ellis—Director, U.S. Office of Emergency Planning

It has been nearly 50 years since the above quoted predictions were made. I believe human beings are optimists at heart. We believe—really believe that the world will be a better place tomorrow than it is today.

One of Fresno’s native sons was not so optimistic. Read the words of William Saroyan:

“What our world is at this time, it is likely to be a quarter of a century form now. Why isn’t the world better? Why is the human experience profoundly violent, psychotic and deathly, and only superficially and occasionally fun, true, or meaningful? Briefly, the world isn’t better because it is an invention of man’s—because man apparently needs a couple of million years more.”

Remember, these predictions were made in 1962.

The magazine is fascinating. The fashionistas of the day made prognostications about what we’d all be wearing in 1987—they were way wrong! Did any of you ever see the episode of the original Star Trek called, “Mudd’s Women”? Well, it was the style of dress worn by the beautiful women in that show that most resembles the way we were expected to dress by the late ‘80’s. They underestimated the power of neon!

It was expected we’d be living in homes largely made of plastic, aluminum, porcelain-enameled steel, and reinforced concrete. As far as space exploration was concerned, scientists believed there would be manned expeditions to and from Mars by 1985.

In many ways life has not moved as quickly as it was once expected it would. In other ways, however, we have leapt over tall buildings. We’re living with AIDS, terrorism, computers, and an out of control drug culture.

On page 17 of the January 16, 1962 issue of LOOK Magazine, then president John F. Kennedy wrote encouraging words of hope for his country’s future. It does me good to read those words today:

“While I possess few flat predictions of life on this planet 25 years hence, I possess many hopes. I hope that we will have made the peace more nearly secure—that tranquility will have replaced terror in the intercourse of nations. I hope that our people will be richer and more secure—that the anxieties of unemployment and illness will be greatly reduced—that our national output will have vastly increased—and, equally important, that we will have learned to use our wealth wisely.”

Hope. Today, tomorrow, and always, we have hope.

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