I think many of us who reached adulthood in the sixties and seventies expected society to have changed much more than it has by now. Tastes changed so quickly and so easily then, for music, for clothes. Habits changed regarding sex and drugs, though maybe a lot of this was that such things became more open. Racial rights, women’s rights and gay rights all broke through obstacles in a stunning way. There was War on Poverty. There was a peace movement that made a difference. Even Jesus was preached in a more free and youthful way in the seventies.
Yet as my children grew up, it was remarkable how some things hadn’t changed further. At one point my daughters’ favorite group was the Beatles, even Simon and Garfunkel. Wait a minute. Those guys are older than I am. I started hearing “cool” from my children, another fashion that preceded me. There’s this stability for what was trendy when I was young, not all of it, but I guess the best of it. It’s fine with me that “groovy” was left in the past for the most part. Of course there are some new variations in music, but it’s all like blues or rock and roll. There hasn’t been another revolution. Weren’t we going to have continuous revolution?
I guess not. It’s seems to be more like an earthquake or volcano erupting. Some tension builds up. It finally breaks through. Then it takes some time to adjust to that and move ahead again. How much time? I look at that list I wrote in the first paragraph, and maybe there won’t be much movement in such things for another 30 years.
Many people speak of how tolerant the newest generation is of homosexuality. Maybe in thirty years that will have translated into some change. Then again maybe not. It took almost 100 years for the Civil War amendments to the Constitution to be enforced. Things do take time.
I know there are a lot of people who want to force change, by publicity, by trying to craft persuasive arguments, even by more aggressive actions. Do you notice how such force generates reactions? I look at a political season like this one, and all I see are two sides each saying their way is right, whether change or don’t change. I would bet they’re both wrong. I bet the final solution our society or the world comes to is different from either side’s vision. I’m sure someday there will be a stability to gender roles that accounts for both biology and our new abilities to be free from biology. I don’t think it will involve women covering up as Muslims want. I don’t think it will be an utterly unisex society. I don’t know where gender roles will wind up between those extremes, though, and I don’t trust those who say they do. There are a lot of social issues like that. Time will fix them, and we don’t know what a stable solution looks like to push our society quickly in that direction.
The anti-abortion crowd finds many things about the genetic revolution to fight. I’m sure they don’t know the future on this issue. I’m sure they don’t know God’s mind. Still they push hard for what they want, using morally charged language. No matter how much they succeed, it’s a drop in the bucket. It’s sand on a highway. The genetic revolution will proceed worldwide. I suspect it will pass a point that is currently considered unethical, to make genetic enhancements to normal function rather than just cure disease. If that’s our destiny because people find such technology works well, nothing people do today will make any difference, even if people all agreed with the Pope. The Pope will die and so will everyone else with our old-fashioned notions. We may wind up like the Borg. What if everyone in the future decides they want that once they have enough information to know that? Who will order that tide to stop?
We are living in a great time of transition, from the Enlightenment, from the scientific revolution. We hadn’t even finished adapting to the Agricultural Revolution that began 10,000 years ago with its subsequent economic competition and war. People who think we are going to find stability in these transitions with the next election cycle, regardless of the results, are living a fantasy. But so many are living a fantasy, as though their opinions matter in the long run, as though they can control the tide.
Our opinions do matter some for the present. I have opinions about what’s best just like anyone else, but I know how small my opinions are compared to cultural evolution.
For me the most tragic opinions are the ones that pretend to know God when I’m sure they don’t. Everyone alive today will die, except God. All He has to do is wait. When our ways fail, He still will be available. I’ve talked to God a lot about this. I understand if no one cares about what God has said to me in response. No one voted me Pope. But is it so hard to imagine the possibility of being wrong about what God wants from people?
The Christian vision of the afterlife includes a judgment where we will be confronted with everything we’ve done wrong. So many people claim to be Christians, but don’t seem concerned over how badly that may go, because of how hateful or indifferent they have been or how false. They think they have a get-out-of-jail-free card, even to get out of hideous torture for eternity, in case God’s vengeance for all this suffering we cause really is that strong. Their clergy have taught them this. What if their clergy are wrong?
The older I get the more I realize that this other shoe I’ve been waiting to see drop since the sixties and seventies, to fulfill the promises of those times, to complete a transition that is over 10,000 years old is huge. It’s bigger than politics. It’s bigger than religion. It’s both cultural and spiritual evolution that few people try to understand, instead being satisfied with slogans. I don’t expect it to fall in my remaining lifetime, but it will fall and nothing of the pettiness in either politics or religion will make any difference.
This is what God tells me. I believe Him.