Not so long ago, a passport was a traveller’s option. You applied for a passport if you wanted to be able to claim the protection of your country’s embassies. Visas were unheard of – though for some particular places you might need special permission. Like the Forbidden City in Peking? Musing on this while waiting for a visa at the Chinese consulate (one of the more helpful I’ve encountered, by the way), I reflected on how short our collective memories are. Who, now, does NOT take for granted the necessity of a passport for international travel?
In the same way, we tend to take for granted the desirability of employment. In fact, it’s written into the declaration of human rights (article 23). But only the day before yesterday – well, less than 200 years ago – Antoine de St Exupéry could refer to ‘paid employment’ as being the second-worse fate that could befall a free man. The worst fate was of course slavery.
In a way, I find this reassuring. If we can make such rapid changes in our values and perspectives, what can we not achieve in the future? Here are some things we might imagine taking for granted in the near future:
• The role of a parliament is to support, protect and empower its people, and to help bring about their dreams of a good society
• Every person is equally important, every life is equally valuable
• The role of money is to connect actual needs with available resources
• The role of industry is to make the best possible use of available resources, without depletion, degradation, or pollution
• The role of education is to empower students and prepare them for active citizenship
Well, that’s just for starters: my preliminary passport to the future. What’s yours?