Viewing the Present From the Future
Many of us have expectations of a bad future. Can we use them to get a clearer view of the present and to find behaviors to create a new destination?
"The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich," is William L. Shirer's look back at his life as a CBS reporter in Nazi Germany. Written 40 years after W.W.II, the book takes the form of a diary with prewar events unfolding as daily reports. Hindsight does not change what happened, but it changes the focus of Shirer's eye. Where he originally reported the development of a world power, he now reports a malignant social process overtaking Germany. In one entry (left column below) he explains how hard it is to maintain his hold on reality immersed in the Nazi experience. In the right column below is what Shirer might write in a hindsight diary if he lived in the year 2025 and looked back on today.
"I myself was to experience how easily one is taken
in by a lying and censored press and radio in a totalitarian state.
It was surprising and sometimes consternating to find
that, notwithstanding the opportunities I had to learn the facts and despite
one's inherent distrust of what one learned from Nazi sources, a steady
diet over the years of falsifications and distortions made a certain impression
on ones mind and often misled it.
No one can possibly conceive how difficult it is to escape the dread consequences of a regimes calculated and incessant propaganda.
"I myself was to experience how easily one is taken in by good-intentioned educational processes and media.
Though, unlike most people, I had access to research which
describes reality as a system of physical objects connected by causal
relationships, most of my day is spent being barraged by media, conferring
with people who, and interacting with institutions that, understand the
world as a set of "dictums."
It was surprising and sometimes consternating to find that, notwithstanding the opportunities I had to learn about systems and despite ones inherent distrust of what one learned in school and the media, a steady diet over the years, of farmer's almanac like phrases made a certain impression on my mind and often misled it.
No one can possibly conceive how difficult it is to escape the distortions of reality unintentionally created by educational and media immersion.
Sometimes one was tempted to say as much. But on such
occasions, one was met with such a stare of incredulity, such a shock
of silence, as if one had blasphemed the Almighty, that one realized how
useless it is even to try to make contact with a mind, which had substituted
a catechism for causality'"