Making a Better Future, Only Now

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 - 13:15

Cyberpunk writer William Gibson, who coined the word “cyberspace,” famously wrote in The Economist that “the future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.”

Former LA Unified School District superintendent John Deasy, at the 2013 Aspen Leaders Action Forum, made a complementary claim that “L.A. is America, only sooner.”

I contend that Community Partners, with sponsored projects and managed initiatives spanning the map of human concerns in neighborhoods and across the region, mirrors Southern California’s future, only sooner.

There’s definitely a wide range of social problems and civic challenges in any given place (and you can bet they are unevenly distributed across populations, as well). Also diverse are the kinds of people built to tackle those issues, with their vastly varied backgrounds.

Every one of those people, though, has an eye on what’s ahead, a vision of how life might unfold for the worse – again, in uneven distribution. Absent someone with their good, helpful intentions stepping up with the aim of changing things right now, this distinctive sort of individual believes, the future will stay forever and intractably the same. In that sense, these “futuremakers” with whom we at Community Partners work, defy any sense of inevitability about what’s ahead. They’re always looking for the better outcome, the salutary result, the brighter prospect.

Sharpen your eye on shaping the future, only sooner, only now. With enough of us all in, we’ll distribute the future more evenly, surely making it better together than any one of us ever imagined possible alone.

The thing futuremakers share in common is this: first and foremost they’ve located within themselves a reservoir of will and wherewithal to act for what I think of as “othergood.” In its healthiest form, othergood expresses a profound empathy that refuses to impose one’s own values on another. It’s comprised of equal parts enlightened self-interest, assertive self-confidence, appreciation of a common humanity, and an uncanny ability to imagine the surrounding world as mutable, not fixed. In a few words, balance and urgency in the face of ingrained inequities, alarming societal dysrhythmias and, too often, downright ugliness from which most ordinary mortals instinctively, understandably flee.

I’m tempted to start singling out Community Partners project leaders as examples of what I’m talking about. But I realize I don’t need to. Every newsletter we publish chronicles the deeds of futuremakers acting from instinct, intelligence and intention to enlarge the boundaries of othergood.

Read about them. Consider adopting an appetite for othergood. Tune in to the way what you care about ties to our commonworth and our commonwealth. Sharpen your eye on shaping the future, only sooner, only now. With enough of us all in, we’ll distribute the future more evenly, surely making it better together than any one of us ever imagined possible alone.

Photo Credit: 'Futuristic' by Thomas CC BY-SA 2.0