Once upon a time, before Google Earth, GPS, and the Internet, we were avid explorers and discoverers. This is not just ancient history, as many presently living in NZ have emigrated here in their lifetimes. We knew risk and danger and did it anyway and we faced things head-on if/when they appeared in and our way.
After we broke away from our mooring in the relatively tranquil and familiar haven, we have been sailing in unchartered waters. We have all the usual navigational tools at our disposal, but even a compass is of little use without a map.
The crew of five million is starting to become restless and showing signs of stress after the long journey. They impatiently ask whether they are there yet without even knowing what or where there is; impossible questions have no absolute answers.
There is a perception among some that the ship’s Chief Medical Officer spends too much time near the helm when he should be focussing more on the crew below deck who have only a faint idea of what is going on. They are strapped in their hammocks, like the humans cocooned in small pods in The Matrix experiencing a virtual world, while their mental energy and life force are consumed and dissipating for no apparent good cause. The Daily Announcement from above makes them feel more like prisoners in a cave watching shadows projected on the cave walls by invisible fires and listening to strange unworldly noises coming from unknown sources that cannot be pinpointed either. The odd bat flies by, free as a bird.
The growing feelings of discontent are making many fearful and/or angry, but because there is little headroom below deck much stays suppressed and almost nothing reaches the upper deck where the Officers yell out confusing instructions to rearrange the ropes on the slippery deck while the ship rolls from Left to Right – steady as she goes.
Some malcontents are trying to incite rebellion and riots but not mutiny yet; the chicken entrails are looking ominous. There are attempts to make holes in the hull below the waterline for the ship to take on water and to slow it down, but these only weaken the ship’s hull and overall structure endangering the whole ship and its crew. There are attempts to tamper with the rudder. There have been several attempts to escape the hammocks and crew leaving their quarters when they should not. All is not well in the Underworld below deck, but it has not been since before the ship’s logs started.
With the limited information coming from other ships out on sea, a vague course is being mapped out. Other ships have suffered major casualties before they reached a relatively safe inlet while others had to leave inlets and temporary anchoring sites and go out to open waters again to avoid running ashore or being smashed against the rocks.
When they finally reach new foreign land again, things will settle down again, by and large. Much will be forgotten. Many anecdotes will live on, for a while at least. Stories will be written, not just for the History books, but also for the human collective psyche, and some of those stories will be more correct and factual than others albeit mostly indistinguishable. Lessons will be learned and forgotten, buried under the daily burdens of life and lost in the race for fame and fortune.
In years to come, scholars and intellectuals will pore over the data and stories and try making sense of it all – facts and reality always beat fiction, hands down. Black swans are mythical creatures, like unicorns, until they are discovered for the first time. This may also be the reason why some cannot get their head around the fact that a bat from of a cave may somehow have triggered a zoonotic event, possibly via a wet market and pangolins, and prefer to believe the more ‘familiar’ story of human construct in a lab and mishap in the safety protocols or conspiracy theories involving GOF research for benevolent and/or malevolent reasons (these are not mutually exclusive).
Surprisingly, they should know better by now that there are many black swans out there to be discovered for the first time, but they seem more intent on discovering evidence that water once existed on Mars. BTW, please do not tell Government, as they may want to incorporate it into their centralisation ideology of the Three Waters Reform Programme.
The future always has been and always will be uncertain; it is not called the future for nothing. It is not a fathomless black abyss in which we will free-fall for all-eternity, not even the Universe is like that. It is not like a bright light at the end of a tunnel either. It is more like a constantly changing perception of a shadowy dance of light(er) and dark(er), like cloud formations in the sky or the colours of water and water spray in a waterfall. Some fear it, some find it beautiful, but nobody really understands it at an intellectual rational level. Such is life, as we know it.