ON HOPEFUL FUTURES
By Dr. Stef dela Cruz
Futures – yes, plural – should be part of what we think about as a society. It was only three years before the pandemic hit when I first heard about futures-building, which I feel is something we need to be familiar with today more than ever. The more this outbreak shatters norms, the more we need to learn skills as futurists. Two days before I sat down in front of my computer to write these notes, I watched BTS give a speech at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York. They represented the youth worldwide, talking about how younger generations are doing their best to thrive in the present and invest in the future. It made me weep – I felt guilty about my own pessimism about tomorrow. At the same time, their thoughtful words, delivered boldly despite their own fears of not meeting expectations, brought me hope once again. Because of what they said, which was broadcast to about 15 million viewers, I realized that there are bright futures – yes, plural – up ahead. What we need is not as simple as envisioning what the future holds, however. We need to deal with biases, think outside the box, and let go of assumptions. Our tightly-held patterns of thinking might not cut it if we’re trying to come up with a brave, new vision of the future. There have been many efforts to challenge how we think as a society, including the way we think about nature and our fellow animals. This is why so many countries are now acknowledging the personhood of animals: Alex Bichara writes about how the UK has been considering laws to recognize the sentience of animals, for instance. There is value in giving animals legal rights, as it saves both animal lives and our own humanity – we don’t want to go down in history as the species that singlehandedly caused the extermination of many others, not to mention causing a climate catastrophe. Speaking of consequences, Richard Leo Ramos writes about COVID-19 as the unintended consequence of our broken relationship with animals. Reviewing how we see animals is called for, and Kisha Aleena suggests that we follow the ten famous animals she writes about for us to view them through a new lens. Co-creating futures with animals is a great way to heal the past. And while this is something that should be done seriously, a musician co-creates with animals in a more laidback manner, as narrated by Zoe Salvador. Thinking about the future also means preventing unfortunate events – Gabbie Abesamis then discusses how humans with animal companions can observe fire prevention. Kim Taehyung of BTS said during their iconic appearance at the UN, “We have people concerned for the world and searching for answers. There are still many pages left in the story about us and I feel like we shouldn’t talk like the ending has already been written.” It’s time for us to write new futures.