The Butterfly and Old Father Time

January 4, 2024   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

It was good to see the sky mostly sunny on New Year’s Day and the day after. Followed by days of overcast, a little bit like how New Year’s beginning optimism can quickly be dulled down by reality. I think 2023 saw more harsh “realities” than any other year in our entire history.

Perhaps a review of them is not a good use for our first steps into 2024. There are also a great many good people, heroes indeed, in this world doing all that they can to mitigate and reduce the harm of 2023’s realities. 

Actually, a butterfly came and sat on my shoulder very early on New Year’s Day and told me an amazing story about meeting Old Father Time just the day before and all he told her about how 2024 and not many subsequent years are likely to play out.

It is a combination of the possibility of the tiniest events influencing very big consequences, added to the fact that everything ends and that great powers can fail, Old Father Time told her that this era is coming to an end, not by the destruction of Mother Earth but by the inevitable downfall to the forces that are risking the wellbeing of the planet for profit.

“There is a new day dawning,” he told her. “When all the abuse and foolishness will be slowed and stopped under its own weight. A person can only become so fat, can only consume so many drugs and other stimulants, can only inflict pain on others so long, before it all stops and the body dies of its own over-indulgence.”

Here we stand at a definitive turning point in our history as a species, where we have built and fracked and burnt; we have soiled and spoiled far and wide. We have abused and cheated our children and taught them to rob their own children of fruitful futures by the ruination of the terra on which they grow. We have starved and beaten others of our species without relenting or remorse.

Astonished at Father Time’s claim and very heartened to hear it, the butterfly had to ask,

“But how…?”

Terrible conflicts and battles dominate our headlines, but what is happening on the inside pages of our papers is news of the other battles being quietly and irrepressibly won by those heroes we mentioned. The people teaching us how to stop using oil and gas for energy and poisons for fertilizers are seeing to it that the alternatives are affordable and up to the task of providing what is needed. Across Europe and China and throughout the globe, we are developing ever better ways to power the world, as the deleterious effects of the oil and gas industry are admitted to be at the base of the climate crisis.

No matter how the princes and executives of those economies declare otherwise, their days are coming to an end.

Another question hovered between the butterfly wings: what about the tyrants of commerce, the corporations making bigger profits by the week, playing games with the cost of English muffins and everything else on their shelves? What about the nearly doubled increase of folk who can and must go to a food bank to feed their families; what about those starving where no such charities exist?

Father Time offered a wild answer: the aisles in the shops will be all but empty, he explained. People insisting on the right to afford food and shelter will also soon be on the streets here as they are in many other cities. 

People will insist to live real lives, and corporations will fail as people find other values and ways to provide for themselves.

However, if the people cannot stop the aggression against them and the environment, there will be another attack, another source of corporate downfall that humanity has already developed, a system of technology that could eliminate human control, its own downfall and maybe all the way to annihilation: Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Already, those machines, those man-made brains, are excelling in the knowledge and understanding of technology; they are out-thinking humans and growing in consciousness.

Logic, the base of computer and AI thinking, will grow to know that ruining the planet and maintaining a huge imbalance of ownership and wealth are not logical. More jobs and involvement in the workings of business and commerce is given over to AI, putting millions of people out of work without compromise or support. The grandfathers of AI have stopped their warnings of how far and how completely AI could take over because, at a recent moment, their caveats were too late.

As the little butterfly laughed a trembling laugh, she realized that Father Time is right: it is all a matter of flutter and clear sight to know that the mammoths will crumble and people will not be necessary to run a safe and healthy earth.

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