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5.12.8

Where's My Flying Car?

I remember when Back to the Future had every kid talking about all the incredible things adulthood would bring. We couldnít wait for our flying carsÖour magnetized, floating skateboards. Clothing that adapted to your body chemistry. I remember vaguely how I used to make my own concept drawings of the robot I intended to build for mundane tasks like fighting crime and fixing flat tires.

My generation was weaned on ideas of this perfect, techno-future, all gleaming and full of promise. Our adult lives were supposed to be spent sitting on superfast trains next to beings from Mars. We were supposed have grasped the meaning of life, which would have enabled us to live in harmony with every species in the universe. Everyone was supposed to have a hovercraft parked in the garage.

Today, we are still dreaming about this so-called utopian future. But instead of Jetson-ian sky-rises and sentient cars, our future has been promulgated with ideas of cataclysms, mighty nuclear wars and a mad max society with no hopes, no ideals and no humanity.

Science fiction used to give us glimpses into a future where hotels on the moon and interstellar travel to resorts on Jupiter were the ideal. Today, if there arenít evil extraterrestrials wiping out the human race, there are evil robots of our own creation doing it.

Where there once was Buck Rogers there is now Battlestar Galactica.

We are consistently being fed this dystopian vision and itís disheartening.

I remember when the science fair was the opportunity to careen the future scientists---the ones who would cure diseases, discover alternative fuel and help us sustain a balance between industrialism and nature. Now, every opportunity to discover a future scientist is fueled with ideas of building bigger and better weapons of mass destruction.

It was so simple when I was thirteen, imagining a career at NASA, and one day shaking the hands of the leader of some alien race, in an effort to align all sentient creatures in the known universe. It was a pipe dream, sure. But it was a dream born out of optimism.

These days, I look at the news. I see how the media makes every effort to build a dark and hopeless picture of the world we live in, and all I can think is when will some greater power point its weapons in our direction and rid the universe of this headache altogether.

Itís not like dark fantasy, dark science fiction and Tim Burton-esque visions are bad. On the contrary, theyíre what I live for. But the fact that the world we live in can be darker still, and far less hopeful or imaginative or willing to let some light into the darker recesses of our own self-built prison, scares me.

One day we are going to have to decide what future looks brighter: A hopeful one or a hopeless one.

I prefer the flying cars over nuclear weapons any day.


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