The pace of change seems to accelerate with every passing day. Last night on the news, in a story about auto manufacturing plants, I learned that now 10% of assembly line work is done by robots. In what I believe was given as the year 2025 the percentage will be 25%. While the introduction of robots makes the actual work less labor intensive, it also will decrease the need for human workers and thereby unemployment will increase. This morning I read of the impending closing of the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus in April after 146 years. There are many factors contributing to the demise of this institution, including the vigorous work of animal rights activists, but a telling comment struck me as a clear indication of the impact of the speed of change even in small children. Speaking of the 12-minute tiger act segment during the circus performance, a representative of the circus remarked, “Try getting a 3 or 4-year old to sit still for 12 minutes…It is seemingly no match for Pokémon Go or YouTube…”
This is not a lament by an aging American (although I do feel somewhat like an anachronism on occasion) but it speaks to both the immense creativity of the human mind as well as the need for attention to the complexity of life in our times. When people lose their jobs, whose ingenuity will supply alternatives? When simple methods of entertainment from yesteryear fail, how can we provide healthy, creative activities and images that feed the souls as well as the bodies and minds of our youth? And in this busy lifestyle that requires differing schedules for family members of all ages, is there still room for the “simple things” like face-to-face conversation and “just being there” for one another?
Complexity requires more attention than simplicity, it seems. Awareness of what is happening around us is not a choice. Whether subtle or blatant, we need to be awake to the pace of change and its effects on the whole of our lives as citizens now not only of our town or village but of the larger world as well. So in case we haven’t noticed that 2017 is already two full weeks old, I say, “Good Morning! It’s time to wake up and get conscious!”