Isaac Asimov used to say that the best science fiction, if done correctly, illuminated the human condition. Just as scientists keep an eye on the latest developments and ponder what new discoveries lie ahead in future research, lately I have been looking at the world we live in today with all its various problems and thinking about what it fill be like for future society. It has given me a few ideas for some discussions, and since they involve the future and current changes and progress (or lack of) in today’s social climate they can accurately be called science fiction, as they deal with change.
I offer them here freely while acknowledging that
a) they might have been done by others already. With the vast amounts of stories and novels already written, not to mention those already being written, it’s impossible to get to them all, and
b) I have no current intention of using them myself. My own writing interests in the SF field primarily lie in military science fiction and space opera. If someone else uses any of them before I write my own story, I can refer them to this blog entry to show that I came up with the idea (at least on paper) first. Even then, I think these are so broad that many writers could make use of them even in passing without having to accuse one another of plagiarism.
All that being said, and thank you for putting up with my rambling once more, here is what came to me while I was out walking the chihuahua:
1) I envisioned a time not too long from now where broken homes not only begin to number those of the happily married, but that it has become such a socially-acceptable predicament that people by and large will brush aside families with both parents as old-fashioned with maybe even a little contempt in their opinions. I foresee classrooms filled with kids who live with only one parent who pick on and look down on kids who have both a mom and a dad living in the same house (or two moms and two dads, whatever might be their individual situation). Also, there are already numerous stories of petty women who have kids solely to receive child support checks. For many single moms and dads with children, the monthly check from the other parent is another small source of revenue for them that they couldn’t get if they were married to the spouse. Same thing with alimony. I don’t wish to presume that pettiness and sheer greed will infect a majority of future parents and couples, but it’s something that I can see increasing all the same, if only by a little bit.
Indeed, this broken homes prediction leads to my second point:
2) Marriage will become archaic. The original primarily sole purpose of marriage was the creation of children. It had very strong religious regulations attached to it, which is why divorce was for so long a shameful predicament to find oneself in and was illegal except for extreme circumstances in many places up until very recently. Now that people are quickly turning away from religion, either abandoning it all together or at least are not adhering strictly to principals as years past I see more and more people choosing not to get married. After all, it’s an expensive process. You have to apply for and pay for a marriage license, you more often or not have to pay either the court or a minister to marry you. The social expectations for weddings and honeymoons make both extraordinary joy expensive for most people, I see our increasingly-lazy population eventually not choosing to go through the hassle and expense. It is not illegal to have sex and have children before marriage, and if you live together long enough it becomes a common-law marriage anyways. Why would someone who prefers to blow money on lavish things at the expense of more important things choose to get a marriage license and tie the knot?
3) I mentioned in the previous idea that it is currently perfectly legal to have children. More and more kids under age 16 are getting pregnant and having babies, a further sign of the diminishment of moral values (in many cases) than previous generations. I’ve gotten a sour feeling lately that certain very liberal areas such as California are trying very hard to make the government more powerful in the reading and education of children than the parents are. It would not surprise me one bit if someday they try introducing legislation requiring potential parents to acquire licenses in order to have children. It is an extremely long shot, in my opinion, but at the same time it very well could be a reality. Take the process of adopting a child from an adoption agency, for example. It’s not a license, per se, but the caseworkers conduct extensive interviews, background checks, home visits, house inspections, and supervised visits before a decision is made whether or not to allow an individual or couple to adopt. And it is an EXTREMELY expensive process. The cost exponentially increases when attempting to adopt a child from overseas. Conceiving your own child, on the other hand, is not nearly as bureaucratic and expensive (or so I, one without children, have been told) as adoption and without any big legal mess. If fascist politicians get wind on the opportunity for increased revenue from birthing licenses and the possibility of population control (may future generations condemn me if any dictator gets this idea from me) then I see such laws going into effect. Then the children will essentially be the offspring of the state, not the parents who made them.
As with all problems, recognizing that this shit can happen and taking steps to prevent them is always possible. Unfortunately unless God himself makes an entrance as He did you in the Old Testament and shakes today’s people to their bones and makes them fear the fires of Hell, most people will I think be perfectly content with letting the world around them fall apart until one day they look back in regret that things have become the way that they are and start looking for people to blame. Little will they realize that they have only themselves to point the finger at. I really hope that none of these items come to pass, and that this is simply a Dark Age for humanity that we will eventually overcome. Part of me is confident that future historians will be in a position to look back at us ancient Americans and ancient Earthlings and scoff at us for our negligence barbarous ways.but part of me is also half-confident that there will be no future historians to look back at us.
I wonder which is the best case scenario?