Two Futures, One Truth

We combined wood, cloth, gears,
And we took to the sky.
We encased ourselves in metal and heat,
And we hurtled to the moon.
We ripped apart atoms,
And we changed the world forever.

Tell me, oh, future,
What will you be?
Now that humanity is on this path.
One where we journey farther than ever before,
Create the previously unimaginable,
Evolve past our wayward selves toward progress.

Will our vehicles fly instead of driving on the earth?
Will our homes bloom like flowers, needing only a few hours?
Will our cities be green and odourless, quiet enough to hear ourselves think?
Would we have the power to stop hurricanes in their tracks?
Control the very gravity that pins us to our spinning planet?
Take the mantle of God and scientifically shape the next humans?

This ingenuity that we’ve honed,
Will our posterity unravel our double-helixed DNA?
Design our human race in a new image,
One where we can change the colour of our irises before birth.
Our creation no longer tethered to the wombs of our mothers.
Plucking out our pesky mortality and imbuing us with endless vitality.

Oh, future, the possibilities are endless!
Finally, we are on the cusp of ascending to a celestial form!

I watch the past enthusiastically imagine me.
The feathers and song of hope surrounding every possibility,
And I ache for that magnificent bird.
At how we’ve pierced and mutilated it.
In the pursuit of making our own bird of metal and wire,
We did not protect its heart,
We did not learn its song,
We did not embody its hope.

My starry-eyed past, we have done much,
All of it thanks to your imagination.
We’ve extracted a diseased heart and replaced it with one that keeps time,
Eradicated some of the deadliest plagues that pockmarked us,
Pierced the silence of deafness with technology.
We communicate through wireless devices, some as small as a wristwatch,
Create aircraft that fly faster than the speed of sound,
Have all the world’s knowledge at the tips of fingers instantly.

But oh, my past, how we haven’t changed at all.
The wars that scarred your souls did not fade.
We still bloody our hands with the crimson of innocents,
Except now we have the luxury of never seeing their eyes as we forever darken them.
We did not lay to bed the exterminations of entire peoples.

Instead, our leaders do as yours did,
Handing the criminals ammunition and turning away without a care.
Our world is not liberated from the subjugation of its people.
Our countries and corporations steal and murder as yours did,
Killing the colours of this world until we stand in void-less nothing.

My past, we did not learn!
You told us never again and still we continue our hate and destruction.
We can try to remove the folly from our veins,
Be it through technology or knowledge,
But there is one thing that never changes:
We are human,
Fickle and irrational and afraid.
We are human,
We seek out knowledge and create terrible, earth-shattering technology.
We are human,
Lusting after power and wealth that make us feel closer to gods.

And still, my past, do not kill your songbird of hope.
There are people now that fight, as they have always fought, for the truth.
Those that protect and care for our most vulnerable,
Who work to bring us closer to that bright future you dreamed.
Our curiosity opening us up to one another,
Our change slow but continuous.
In our humanity lies perseverance and love,
And we do not evolve past that.

Inspired by:

Benford, Gregory, and the editors of Popular Mechanics magazine. 2010. The Wonderful Future That Never Was. New York: Hearst Books.

Opinion Editor (Volume 50); Ear to the Ground Columnist (Volume 48) — Aya is a recent UTM graduate, having double majored in Political Science and Sociology. She's worked at The Medium for four years, starting in Volume 46 as a Staff Writer, then becoming Opinion Editor for Volume 47, serving as a Columnist for Volume 48, and now reprising her role as Opinion Editor for Volume 50. She loves the opinion section for its opportunity to spotlight student voices and allow for a range of tones, from serious to satirical to silly. Aya's passionate about engaging in robust, thoughtful, and meaningful discussions through writing and hopes that the UTM student body will join her in doing so!


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