The future is not set in stone

Il·lustració. © Susana Blasco


Crises are occurring one after the other and the turmoil they cause is hitting us harder and harder. People are beginning to realise that the wellbeing we enjoy may be in jeopardy.

But the storms that threaten us now have been brewing for a long time. Climate change, the energy crisis, food shortages, large-scale migration, the growing precariousness of life and many of the wars that have unfolded in recent decades are not phenomena that have happened overnight. Most of them have been bubbling away for a long time and are now reaching boiling point.

For the first time, these crises are global in scope. They affect us all. Climate change is the paradigm of these crises: it is a global phenomenon that manifests itself unpredictably at the local level in the form of increasingly severe and more frequent changes in the weather. It is no longer a matter of debate, but an everyday reality that generates fear of the future and an objective uncertainty shared by millions of people. The climate emergency is linked to an energy crisis and a shortage of many of the natural resources that uphold the current production model. We are approaching a dangerous crossroads. Uncertainty and public authorities’ inability to provide solutions to the various crises could endanger democracy itself.

But the future is not set in stone: it depends, as ever, on our actions. We can move towards the precipice with authoritarian solutions that exacerbate problems and social inequalities, or we can turn the tide and make all these threats an opportunity to strengthen democracy and build a more sustainable and equitable society. It is not for lack of knowledge that all these crises have caught us off guard. In fact, we live in privileged times when, as Yuval Noah Harari puts it, famine and many of the serious diseases that have plagued humanity throughout history are no longer uncontrollable forces of nature. We are equipped with knowledge and tools for action that we did not have before. The big challenge we are up against is not to be intimidated or paralysed by the magnitude of the problems. In these times of uncertainty, it is imperative to have forums for reflection such as the one provided by the Biennial of Thought and to share ideas such as those set forth by the participating authors in the following pages.

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