A great number of human race all over the planet are celebrating the coming of the New Millennium in a couple of weeks. The immense success of the Internet has made Internet seem like a single event marking the new Millennium. But the Internet started 30 years ago and actually the developments beyond the Industrial Society have been happening in the last few decades, and it seems like humanity has now found the occasion of the Year 2000 to celebrate this glacial change to a new post-industrial society, and Internet is just the latest global medium like the invention of language, that is putting the fabric of this new civilization together. If inventing tools that entail some rules of inference, and in that sense are intelligent, can be resembled to first the invent of tool-making by the humans, the invention of Internet can be compared to the invention of language by humans.


The Internet, as a means of communication of the humans, and inference tools, is eradicating the barriers of time and space and is making it possible for humans living in separate time zones or separate geographical space, to have real-time communication and cooperation, for production or social exchange. All the developments coined as "e-commerce", "e-tailing", "e-mail", etc. point at this reality of a new society, that is in the real sense of the term "global". And although Internet and computers are the most important development at the dawn of the new Millennium, by eradicating the barriers of time and space at local, regional, national, and global scales, but this will not be the last glacial event impacting the human race in the new Millennium.


As we are entering the new Millennium, we have already gained our first glances of the things to come. Some forecasters are forecasting the technological events forthcoming the next 400 years. Breakthroughs in materials science, artificial life, and space travel may bring drastic changes in the human society in the years ahead and the scope of the impact on human physiology and habitat are hard even to predict in its general prospects. Many of the science fiction movies become obsolete even in a long before their predicted expected future dates arrive.


A question that many parents, educators, and youngsters themselves ask is “what is the best field for the children to choose to be successful and prosperous in the future”?  What would be the best field of study and work if they had all the talents and means to get there?  Should they go into law and medicine? Should they study computers and communications? What about getting into a career in business?  Should they go for genetics, space studies, particle physics? How about management, economics, engineering, and politics?  Philosophy or religion?


The above question is not really just a question about career planning for a youngster. It is essentially a vote of the present generation about what they view the future to be, as they try to talk about plans for their loved ones in areas of career and education. It is not hard to say that everyone knows that all the above choices may end up in a failure to meet expectations. Many of the recent generations who tried to predict their career goals and choose an educational path ended up surprised that the field they picked did not happen to grow as they thought and they had to change careers about three times in their lifetime. If my grandfather was very possibly in a continuation of the career and lifestyle of his father which may have been the same in a few generations, in contrast, the individuals in the last part of the 20th Century, not only did not stay in the same job for a few generations, but they even have had a number of career changes just within in their own lifetime. This is a major change that humans are not raised to handle well. In the past, within one's lifetime, a small minority who traveled and worked in different countries would possibly face such changes in ones lifetime. But today the majority of human race is living like this.


The above means that more and more people who live side-by-side are come from different national, religious, and work backgrounds and are changing as we speak. In other words, when one's neighbor next door and next door and next was a Shia't Muslim, it was an affirmation of one's way of life but when more and more the variety of backgrounds becomes the reality, especially in the Western world, no matter how hard one tries to create mosques and ethnic community groups to keep the old fabric together, the fabric breaks down in a few generations. The result is not melting in the pot, or becoming one with the host culture and way of life, as it has been the past reality of the American experience. The result is actually developing a new culture that has a lot to do with what is in store for us in the future. In short this is related to the question youngsters, parents, and educators ask about our children as to what is the "good" thing for the future generation to study or what is a "good" career path to choose?


The bottom line is that it is almost impossible to say which one of those fields is the "best" field for the future, as it is almost impossible to say what cultural norms are the most important ingredients of human culture in 100 years. But one thing that is sure is that the best one can do is to teach children to *think*. We may all imagine that this is so trivial, but if we look around us, we see that majority of the human race as we enter the new Millennium do not think in many areas of their life. How could the majority of people who are born in families with "religion A" end up in "religion A" if they really had thought and had chosen a religion, if they desired to choose any religion? The odds of choosing exactly what one is handed down by ones parents should be way way below what the reality of people's choice has been for centuries and this shows how little humans really think.


As far as careers and fields, the ones who know how to think, will be able to be flexible to do what is most in demand at any time, and what one most enjoys at any time as well. In other words, as one used to learn to reading, writing, and math skills to think better, the scope will be a lot bigger but the goal would be to learn to think in all areas of work and life and this being the production requirement of the new Millennium, I believe, it would impact the human race in its social experience, at an unprecedented level.  A social experience, which for the most part, has not been subject to much thinking in the past.


Thinking is not just having knowledge or experience. In fact, it is easier to define thinking, as what it is not, rather than defining it as what it is. A thinking mind has itself as its point of reference rather than finding its answers from traditions, religions, science, etc, although his/her outcome may end up to be in line with some tradition or scientific answer, in one area or the other.  A thinking mind and a mature person does not believe that to be a thinking mind, s/he should just make decisions opposite to any accepted norm to accept it to be a product of thinking. It is pretty hard to know what the result of real thinking by the human race would be in the way that we live, but this becoming the work and life requirement of the human civilization, as we are entering the new Millennium, it is pretty hard to escape this reality and the ones who arrive at it sooner may be better prepared to face the challenges ahead for the human race in the centuries to come.


We may not know what an asset it is that we are able to be a thinking mind. Many ones who would at times wish that it would have been better if they were not a thinking person may reconsider their belief as we enter the new Millennium. Thinking is more an asset that land, industrial property, or even knowledge in the new world. The global access to Internet makes it possible for humans spatially and temporally apart, to think and communicate with each other, and have a vast amount of knowledge at their disposal in real-time.


Sam Ghandchi, Publisher


Dec 18, 1999






* The above article was first posted on SCI (soc.culture.iranian) Usenet newsgroup on Dec 18, 1999.



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