A couple of years ago, Alvin Toffler wrote a book called Future Shock. In it he described how the world around us is changing faster than ever before. And not only that: the rate of change is increasing all the time. He describes how half of all Americans change homes at least every five years; how people change husbands, wives, jobs, cities and careers with increasing rapidity…Not to mention all the trivial proprietary products from cars to soap powder that change with bewildering frequency.
He also outlines the enormous increase in information, scientific and otherwise. Human knowledge is said to double every ten years, and the doubling time is getting shorter all the time. Compared with the relatively unchanging world of our parents and grandparents, this is a new phenomenon indeed. In the old days they said that a sense of stability was necessary for a normal development and the avoidance of mental illness. This stability has clearly gone forever. Even if we avoid any of several catastrophes looming before mankind, it seems this rapidly changing world is only going to be healthily populated by meditators – the only people who will be able to live joyously in the center of the cyclone.
Would you please comment?
Alvin Toffler’s book is already out-of-date. He writes that in America people change things within five years. Now the time is three years: within three years’ time they change their jobs, their spouses, their cities – not to mention small things which are changing every day. The rate of knowledge, according to him, is doubling every ten years; now it is doubling every five years.
It is true that in the past there was stability. But it is not true that stability is a basic necessity for normal growth of human beings. Stability is good only for the mediocre, only for the retarded – because the mediocre and the retarded never want any change, because any change is a trouble. They would have to learn things again, and learning is their difficulty.
So in the past the world was very good, very convenient for the mediocre people; whatever you learned in your childhood remained true till you died. No change in anything kept the mediocre mind very comfortable.
The new phenomenon is really dangerous, but not for humanity as such; it is only dangerous for the masses, because they cannot keep pace with the change. Before they can become accustomed to one thing, it is already changing. They are always left behind. They can go insane, become abnormal.
But for the intelligent people the changing world is the right world – because intelligence wants new excitements, new challenges, new ecstasies. In the old world there was no possibility.
So I will not agree with Alvin Toffler; he is thinking of humanity as a whole. But this is not a truth; humanity is divided between those who want to remain confined in the familiar and those who want new skies, new stars to explore.
The past was very dangerous for these people – the explorers. The past was against them. In fact, many things were invented in the past, but they were suppressed in favor of the masses. They were dangerous because they bring changes – and the larger part of humanity is more afraid of change than of death, because death is a release, a deep sleep, but a change is a trouble.
Three thousand years ago China developed printing presses. But they never used them widely; they were used only for the royal families. The ordinary masses continued to write their books with their own hands. It was thought that it would be dangerous to give the printing press – a very innocent invention – to the masses, because then there would be so many books available that the mediocre mind wouldn’t be able to cope with it; it would go berserk. To avoid that, printing presses remained suppressed.