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Harold Gilliam: Mind over matter

Harold Gilliam has such a gift with words. He writes in today’s San Francisco Chronicle about his walk on Baker Beach and some of the perspective it brought.

As I watched the waves rolling in from the far Pacific, it occurred to me that a sense of time — a perspective beyond the demands of the moment — may be what is most needed in our speeded-up, slam-bang, hyperkinetic culture, when our attention is dominated by the latest headlines, the 15-minute celebrities, the fads and tragedies of the moment.

Thinking about the grim aspects of the world scene in this third winter of the new century, I remembered reading some of the 19th century prophets, like Victor Hugo and Edward Bellamy, who were eloquent about the glowing possibilities of burgeoning science and technology. They were confident that the coming 20th century would bring a science-based utopia. Poverty, crime and war would be abolished in a century of universal abundance.

What irony! The noble dream died during the next century, and visions of utopia were replaced by the nightmares of dystopia, described by Aldous Huxley and George Orwell. The 20th century brought the bloodiest wars and genocides in history. And the 21st century has begun with more of the same.

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