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Uploaded:2019-12-27
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We are used to moving forward...so much so that moving back a little bit could seem really big and really scary to people. I feel like we've moved back some, particularly when it comes to global faith in democracy. I think that's a hit that was brought on by the social internet, but also by increasing inequality, and political pundits, operatives, and TV news that wants people to be as freaked out as possible.

But just because being freaked out is bad doesn't mean that worry is bad, and this video is about that.

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Good morning, John, it is our last video of the 20-teens, and I'm tempted to look back at fidget spinners, at "The Dress", at planking, which was this decade apparently, but I can't, because I'm too worried about the future and I feel like a lot of people are so I want to talk about it, and of course, the future is worrying.  It is unknown and unknowable, but I also think that worry can get a bad rap, because we do it wrong, so let's talk about it.

But first, in many ways, the world got better over the last ten years, even if you just look at America, the world got better over the last ten years.  I had a Motorola Droid in 2009.  Blech.  But also, bigger deal, gay marriage was illegal.  Also the unemployment rate went from 10% down to 4, and yet, to me, now feels a bit shakier than then did.  I'm not really sure why that is. 

Part of it has to be that we're starting to feel the real effects of climate change in two different ways.  One: the actual real effect.  The climate is changing, but then secondly, we have a growing populace of young people knowing that they are gonna be the ones who actually have to solve this problem, looking to their elected leaders who aren't recognizing that the problem exists, so yeah, that's gonna cause some tension.

Also, this is an election year, and it's gonna be stressful because of that.  They're always stressful and also we just impeached our president about the fact that he doesn't have a great deal of respect for the process, so yeah, I'm worried about that.  I'm also worried that this tension, some of which is actively manufactured by our leaders or just the architecture of the social internet or by Russian bot farms will continue to pull at the bonds of community, and that's a story of the last decade but beyond that as well, which has had real negative impacts.

So I just threw a bunch of stuff at you.  I probably made you feel super stressed out.  I apologize for that, but here's why.  There's somewhat of a tendency to say, like, 2019 was such a trash year.  There's no way 2020 could be worse, but like, look.  I don't mean to continue to freak you out, but it could always be worse.  This is one of the reasons why I like science fiction.  It's a way to worry about the future, to like, play out scenarios in narrative form.  Our first Life's Library book of this year, Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, great example of this.

So I actually do worry that we might worry the wrong ways, but I also worry that we might not worry enough, so have fun with that.  But here's what's up: we're getting to the point.  One of the smartest teachers I ever had once told me that what he looks for in good leaders is worry.  People who are brave and bold, yes, but also people who are kept up at night by the possibilities, who think and ruminate and fret, because worry isn't a disease.  It's a symptom of caring, and it's a tool.  It's a survival strategy.  Being able to think through a situation and assign probabilities to different outcomes, however flawed those probabilities may be, is a human superpower.  It is the reason we are alive right now.

I don't think all worry is healthy or anything.  We do have to find the right ways to be worried and the right things to worry about.  We need worries that motivate us and that are also based in reality rather than ideology or just blind opposition, and also worry almost always works best hand in hand with hope, so yeah, I'm worried about 2020 because 2020 needs me to be worried about it, just like I need my mom to be worried about me, and I know that it can feel like we are powerless in the face of so many other people who want completely different or slightly different things than we do and who oftentimes have more resources than we do, but we're not powerless.  Who we donate to, who we vote for, the conversations we have, how we choose to imagine the world, all of those things are how the entire human Earth gets built.

So yes, I'm worried for the future and yes, I'm glad.  John, I'll see you in 2020.  

PS, if you are in St. Petersburg, Atlanta, or Raleigh, North Carolina, and you want to come have a good time and also maybe think some big thoughts with us, we're going a little tour.  More information in the description.