I remember as a boy, I chanced upon a poster that had clearly been inspired by the science fiction classic novel of my favorite author in high school, H.G. Wells. It showed spaceships, with men and women wearing fancy silver suits docked beside a floating city in the sky. Written above it was a bold title, “THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME!”
Ironically at that time, the only big thing in the skies, at least in Davao, was the long-decommissioned DC-3 aircraft, which millennials of today can only see if they googled it on the internet. That poster though, in the mind of a small boy, held a wonderful promise that could incite anyone’s imagination to run wild. In the following years that we had progressed, that poster and its assurance of a truly exciting future had burned like a tiny flame within the boy, although now, he and that glimmer of childish hope dwell inside this much older frame.
By leaps and bounds, the brave new world of today had seen to it that dreams could indeed become real. Who would even think that the watch-phone worn by Dick Tracy in the comics of the 30s is now a reality? The same could be said of all of James Bond’s fantastic cars and gadgets, the ones we used to gawk at when they were showcased in countless spy movies. As all these among many others, saw fruition, I thought that it must then be just a matter of time before we could finally come up with that floating city after all.
Alas, children’s dreams do not influence grown-up realities. We only love to romantically imagine it to be that way. While it may be true that in terms of advancements in science and technology, the pipe dreams of yesterday coincide with what the future presently holds, it sadly ends there.
Whatever we have achieved today are not in any way the results of poster-ogling little kids’ fancy head trips. On the contrary, they are the set aspirations of old men who seek to further their tight rein on this wildly-bucking future. At these, the conjuring image of these old men dreaming, is weirdly pictured in reality’s mirror as the image of old men scheming.
How else can one explain war for profit, at the expense of third world nation’s populations? Or the mass slaughter of animals for supposed consumption or scientific research? In just over a century, the mad race that started with the industrial revolution has wrought havoc on our own planet, akin to a single-minded virus slowly eliminating everything in its path.
It is really laughable how the grown up mind mimics and play out child dreams while pursuing grownup agenda. While political decisions mete out our slow destruction of the planet, the so-called dreams for a better tomorrow remain tagged in place as simply just abandoned dreams in the wake of all these uncertainties.
How I wish to see the old poster again one last time, just to remind me of past longings. This homesickness for that moment where one cannot return, this nostalgic yearning and grief for lost places of the past, is sealed tight in that poster. Like old and fading photographs on the mantle.
Like the poster of one’s childhood, the future is here but it has not turned out to be as awe-inspiring. Looking at how far we have become as evolved societies, our humanity, in spite of all that we mistakenly perceive as progress, has not so much as changed, except maybe for an improved life span. Because of this, it becomes only fair that, at least, many of us will still be there to witness when the moment comes as we totally lose it all.