When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I understood like a child, I thought like a child: but when I became a man, I put childish things aside.
For now, we see through a glass, dark …
– 1 Corinthians 13
I actually plan to put the childish things away, when I grow up to be a man… eventually. But I delay the inevitable as long as possible.
Things, for those who can think of themselves as “men”, seem a bit bleak these days. The men in the office of the director of national intelligence, for example. They released a report last month called “Global trends 2040: a more contested world”. They are grown men who enjoy playing “I am a spy” and other intelligence-gathering games. (We note that the Bible does not give a firm definition of “childish things”.)
The “Global Trends” report is published every four years. Here’s the “Global Trends” logo, which appears on page 2 of the report, and which I personally think would make a great logo for a video game.
Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded the world of its fragility and demonstrated the risks inherent in high levels of interdependence. In the years and decades to come, the world will face more intense and cascading global challenges, ranging from disease and climate change to disruption caused by new technologies and financial crises.
These challenges will repeatedly test the resilience and adaptability of communities, states and international systems, often exceeding the capacity of existing systems and models. This impending imbalance between current and future challenges, and the capacity of institutions and systems to respond, is likely to develop and produce greater contestation at all levels.
When I typed those two paragraphs of the report’s introduction, my computer underlined the word “dispute” as a spelling error. Apparently my computer still understands things as a child, as several dictionaries have a valid definition of “dispute”, and even a few synonyms:
controversy, debate, difference, difficulty, disagreement, dispute, argument, dissension, firestorm …
Like I was telling my friend the other day, if you always expect the worst to happen, you can never be disappointed… and you might be pleasantly surprised. Obviously, the Office of the Director of National Security subscribes to the same philosophy. But we have to be careful, because when you work like in the intelligence community, you not only expect things to go wrong… you want things to go wrong.
Job security, my friends. Job security.
No intelligence agency would ever be foolish enough to tell its citizens, “Don’t worry, everything is rosy.”
What… there are no more bad guys left? Nobody to spy and steal secrets? No reason to jump out of a helicopter and save the beautiful blonde?
But I was distracted by the beautiful blonde and the protests. I was supposed to write about when I thought as a kid, and when I spoke as a kid, and my experiences with my first grade teacher, Mrs. O’Hara.
I distinctly remember it was spring and I was looking at the ash tree outside the classroom window. The tree was scalloped with tiny lime green leaves, and – thinking about it, as children are used to doing – I imagined what the tree would look like in a few weeks, when it cast its wide, cool shadow across the tree. sandbox … and how my best friend Rusty and I were building a sand town with freeways and parking lots. The city would of course include a school, with a small ash tree and a sandbox … and two miniature boys building a city with highways and parking lots …
I felt a shadow fall on my desk and Mrs. O’Hara was standing above me. She looked at me, but she addressed her remarks to the other students in the room.
“Louis didn’t hear the question I just asked… because Louis is too busy dreaming. I expect him to fail the math test on Friday, the same way he has failed so many tests this year. I expect the others who pay attention to all do very well on Friday. But I expect Louis to fail, once again.
Of course, I failed the math test on Friday. Mrs. O’Hara expected me to fail, and I did. If the test had been a spelling test and the words were “contestation”, “imbalance” and “fragility”, I would have failed this test as well.
Looking through a dark glass, it is not always obvious if the glass is dark … or if it is yours. listen It’s dark.
When you expect the world is falling apart, chances are it will do just that.
The underrated writer Louis Cannon grew up in the vast American West, though his ex-wife, at the slightest opportunity, will deny he ever grew up.