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2010: the human odyssey continues

As a child growing up in the 1970s, the year 2010 always seemed so distant, very much the fancy of science fiction. The second instalment of Arthur C.

As a child growing up in the 1970s, the year 2010 always seemed so distant, very much the fancy of science fiction. The second instalment of Arthur C. Clarke’s classic Space Odyssey series, 2010 held the promise of moon colonies and manned missions to neighbouring planets.

Sadly, the scientific speculation promised by my Grade 2 reading textbooks in 1975 have yet to materialize. We still do not have a permanent colony on the moon and Mars may have to wait a few decades yet. Heck, I still have 10 years to wait before that grandchild is even a reality. No need to hurry, kids!

While we have witnessed an amazing array of scientific, medical and technological advancements in the last decade, particularly in light of fears that everything would come to a grinding halt with the coming of the new millennium, we look ahead now to the second decade of the new century and imagine what awaits.

Although we are still struggling to label the past decade, it will likely be remembered as the time in history when social networking took hold of how humans communicate and interact. YouTube, Facebook, Nexopia, MySpace and Twitter have removed us in large part from the actual to the virtual world. The face of entertainment, with our giant TV walls has changed dramatically, becoming more personal than communal. Technological skill sets I acquired in early adulthood are readily upon the fingertips of modern pre-schoolers. These digital learners will quickly outpace us older digital migrants. For better or worse, society evolves with its technology. Ever the optimist, I see great promise and potential on the horizon. I hold a secret hope that our global village will evolve into Gene Roddenberry’s ‘prime directive’ driven vision of globally minded citizens who seek to better all life on the planet.

Imagine what the world would be like if a stable food supply, clean water, proper education and basic medical care were commonplace. Imagine a global economy driven by the desire to look after everyone versus insular interest groups. I am not talking about some utopian or pure communist state; I am merely suggesting that as a whole, humanity can benefit by striving to make science fiction become science fact. By realizing the benefits of looking after ‘the needs of the many versus the needs of the few or the one,’ we, as individuals, begin to see beyond ourselves. We realize that the entire universe is out there to discover, but until we are able to reconcile our own petty differences and become excellent stewards of our own planet, we won’t be going on any space odysseys.

With the right mindset coupled with Canadian ingenuity and integrity, we can look ahead to the next decade with hope but more so with the challenge to make a meaningful difference to the greater good of our planet. If the bridge crew of the NCC-1701, with its cultural differences and special talents could be represented by one country, it is Canada. The question remains: Are we ready to boldly go?

Tim Cusack thinks the year 2020 should be the International Year of Vision.