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Friday, June 13 2014 08:41
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                                    THE FUTURE?


Sometimes I wonder how the world will look after people in my age bracket have gone.  Will it have changed greatly or will it be much like what it is today?

 Will our successors improve on what my contemporaries have brought about? Can they manage to deal successfully with the looming issues of their time?

It would be foolish of me to list a whole lot of things needing basic change or improvement.  The world is full of them. 

But let me choose here a few in my own country that cry out for rethinking, if not radical reform. Some allow for quick action; others will demand many years of work.

!) Already, millions of Americans agree that we need to abolish capital punishment. Virtually every other democratic country has done so; and 32 states have done so as well.

The reasons for this action have become clear.  Many states have recognized how often mistakes have been made. Innocent people have been executed.  This fact presumably accounts for the shrinking number of Americans now in favor of the death penalty.

2) Another urgent issue is gun control. Will our successors have found a way to resolve this issue, or will gun violence continue to be a daily fact of life?

Advocates of individual gun rights, led by the National Rifle Association, claim support in the Second Amendment of the Constitution. But does their view hold water?

To apply to the individual citizen what was intended for people serving in militias is clearly incorrect.  No wonder that in 1991, the retired Chief Justice Warren Burger (no raving liberal he), called such an interpretation a fraud.

Should the Constitution be amended to eliminate the death penalty and the unlimited sale of guns? In a recent book, retired justice John Paul Stevens recommended precisely that. But will it happen?

3) On a global scale, how will climate change transform our world? Like many of my fellow citizens, I am both inexpert and anxious about this.

Just recently, in accordance with President Obama’s announced strategy, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a multi-year plan to reduce carbon emissions.  Political leaders in coal states -  Democrats as well as Republicans -  have been quick to declare their opposition. Will the country be able to summon up political will to preserve the environment?

4) You can bet that the future will be marked by up-close technology. Stephen Wolfram, a scientist quoted by the Pew Research Center, says: “One day I’m sure everyone will routinely collect all sorts of data about themselves.” I shudder to think about what this will do to the human heart and spirit.

Among the kinds of technology that will mark the future, drones will almost surely loom large.  Already they play an important part in this country’s warfare.  Unfortunately, these devices have killed not a few innocent civilians, along with the terrorists at whom they were aimed.

But drones have other uses, some of them desirable.  Called “a flying camera” by some, the drone is used by many journalists in Latin America and Europe to enhance their gathering of news. A few of our states have passed legislation protecting against abuse of these devices.

5) Finally, if I may speak as a Catholic, let me also hope for the American church to be among the first to welcome women into the priesthood. This will not happen soon (I predict a hundred years), but it will surely happen. 

And that will be not only a happy day for Catholics and others, but it will much improve the church. Women in priestly ministry can be expected to give the religious community a new dynamism.