This is Rhobin’s homework task for me in May.
In 1972, I was the father of two tiny children. My main task was the writing up of my otherwise completed PhD thesis, which was a BORING thing to do. There were no personal computers then, or looking up references online, so every Wednesday was library day.
There I sat, in approximately public view. For some reason, the 907 students taking the psychology subject I coordinated also haunted the same parts of the library, so I couldn’t go to sleep. What an example that would have been! So, when the Quarterly Journal of Psychology or the like could no longer hold my attention, I needed a holiday in a completely different topic.
I asked myself, “What kind of a future will my kids grow up in?”
Boy, did the answer wake me up!
I read the Ecologist magazine, and books by Paul Ehrlich and David Suzuki, and then got interested enough to chase down source documents. Over about nine months, not only did I complete my thesis, but also became knowledgeable about futurology. No, this is not Nostradamus and stuff, but extrapolating current trends under a variety of stated assumptions.
This was terrifying.
We are now officially in the sixth great extinction event of Earth. I predicted that in 1972, only the rate of change is far faster than I thought it would be.
Global population then was under 4 billion. Now, it is 7.7 billion. I chose “zero population growth:” two adults having two children. Now, I’d choose to go childfree.
I predicted the terrible effects of income inequality, the conquest of humanity by multinational corporations, the spread of diseases into new areas and the emergence of previously unknown diseases.
Knowing of the work of John B. Calhoun, I predicted the epidemics of stress-related disorders, the breakdown of social norms, galloping depression and anxiety, and irrational wars.
So, I became an environmental and humanitarian activist. As time has passed, I’ve identified myself as a Professional Grandfather, but this is still the same thing.
Everything I do, including my writing, is intended to save a future for all living things on this planet including humans, and a future worth living in.
One way or another, every one of my books, fiction or nonfiction, is a tool in my campaign for survival.
The message is in all of them, but hidden. I hate being preached at, so won’t do it to others.
My first successful attempt at novels was the Ehvelen series. They were the protectors of the wild spaces; the Mother’s sword against slavery, cruelty, exploitation. I wrote four in the series, but have withdrawn the first two, pending revision… one day. The Making of a Forest Fighter won an award. The Travels of First Horse is still one of my favourites.
Then came my most awarded book, the biography Anikó: The stranger who loved me. It shows the strength of the human spirit in the worst kinds of adversity. She was my mother, but that’s not why her story is worth the telling. It’s because she survived the unsurvivable, and achieved the impossible, more than once.
I could go on to my four novels, three short story collections and four psych books but… promotion is no fun. I’d rather write books than spruik them. Perhaps my latest book is worth a mention, because it is a distillation of all the above. Do look up From Depression to Contentment: A self-therapy guide.
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