Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why I have great HOPE for the future...

Today I'm thinking about the future. Not my future, in particular, so much as the future of our world.

I'll start right out and confess that I am - essentially - optimistic. Or, in words variously claimed but most often attributed to Cornel West, "I am a prisoner to hope."

My optimism has some serious limitations. You see, I also subscribe to the good old-fashioned theory of total depravity (original sin). This is not so much rooted in theology as it is in a life-time of observation!

So I more properly should say that I'd like to be optimistic... but that the evidence too often points to an outlook loaded with less sunshine.

Hence my need for the the reality that is hope - and hope has a lot more of theology about it. My hope is founded both on humankind and God - to be honest it's hard for me to separate the two; there's a lot of overlap in definition and I'm grateful for it.

COMMUNICATION: Right off the bat I'm interested in the future in terms of communication. When I first began seriously thinking about communication, or - my definition - "How information is stored, accessed and distributed", I viewed information as simply one more category within an economic system, like "goods", "services", "medicine", "education," "manufacturing" etc. etc.

But now I see that information/communication is beginning, more and more, to define the way that we live, the way that we interact with everything, from manufacturing to medical services to politics to religion to goods & services.

Accessibility - for example - is now as much a product of information sharing as it is of means. The way that we distribute information is having an increasingly important role in what it means to be egalitarian. And I'm wondering - as I think out loud (remember, this is a blog post, not a position paper) - if even the great inequities of medical care and education will ultimately be addressed best in terms of how we distribute information?

You see, one of the great roadblocks to universal health coverage is not so much lack of funding as it is a glut of inefficiency. If you listen carefully, most opposition to "government" health care is not so much the cost as the "rationing." What this really means is, "I don't want to share my doctor or my medicine or my hospital stay with anyone else. The best way to keep them out of my doctor's office is to ration care my way, and that means this culture's ultimate value - money."

If we could somehow demonstrate that there's enough to go around, then I honestly believe we wouldn't mind so much paying for it. Most of this huffing and puffing is about keeping their place in the line.

Communication... information... "The Future" is going to go a long way (I hope) to begin to fix all that.

Bottom line is this: We have the resources in North America to provide top-notch care to everyone (as well as top-notch education, adequate housing, more than enough food and more...), including those who wander in over our borders. The big stumbling block is inefficiency, communication, access.

Revolution: I believe we're in the beginning stages of a revolution when it comes to how we make best use of our resources. Information technology is - increasingly - going to be key.

The other part of the equation has to be faith. Freedom doesn't have a prayer unless we learn how to love one-another. So it's time for a revolution of love. Not the 60's kind of love revolution, but one that is rooted in Jesus.

I don't argue the efficacy (capacity to produce an effect) of using money as our primary tool for rationing; money is far superior to "might". But what if we found another way? What if we discovered that we could improve the equation?

The way that we share information may go a long way toward answering that conundrum. I'm hopeful....

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