We have now entered a new era, one with extraordinary
if not unprecedented ambivalence. Previous eras were
usually characterized by a singular phenomenon, e.g.
anxiety, optimism, fear, violence, hope, terror, confidence,
doubt, and so on.
Our new age, however, is complicated by off-setting
opposites and contradictions. On the one hand, daily
headlines based on incidents of brutal attacks and
bombings are juxtaposed with headlines reporting new
medical discoveries that save and prolong lives.
Headlines based on major natural disasters of floods,
earthquakes and tornados are juxtaposed with satellite-taken
photographs, videos and data from space probes and
human flights to outer space. Headlines of epidemics and
potential pandemics from viral and biological diseases
without known treatment and cure are juxtaposed with
news stories of predictions of future human life spans
that will end disease as we know it, and routinely exceed
one hundred or more years. Headlines of human suffering
and deprivation in some continents are juxtaposed with
headlines proclaiming the arrival of more and more
sophisticated robots and other devices that will replace
much of what humanity now does as work and toil.
Headlines of imminent and widespread food, energy
and raw materials shortages are juxtaposed with new
discoveries of large deposits of gas, oil and needed
mineral resources. Headlines that proclaim problematic
and totalitarian prospects for future generations are
juxtaposed with sanguine predictions of international
cooperation and the continued rise of democracies.
What is a person living now to make of these ubiquitous
Human life, at any of its stages, has faced mixed messages,
but it would seem that the potential real prospect of
accidental species suicide (one extreme) and limitless life
spans (the other extreme) is producing a new kind of
subconscious ambivalence in our daily lives, especially in
the new era of internet communications and ultra-fast
transportation which gives life an unprecedented provisional
Pessimists, of course, dwell on the negative and frightening
side of this new age, while optimists focus of positive and
reassuring side, but a new psychology might be in formation
for most of us, that is, a psychology of daily ambivalence.
Should this be so, we might expect some new modes of
behavior and relationships.
It perhaps accounts for, as well, the new phenomena and
alteration of institutions now arising here and there in the
various human communities spread over our little planet.
The future, when it arrives, is always a surprise.
Copyright (c) 2013 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.