We're all wondering how the next chapter will read.
As we prepare to turn the next page, a thousand year
chapter will forever be sealed in the archives of the history of mankind. The blank pages ahead are awaiting our inscription stories, insights and choices that will mark a transition in our evolution as a society.
The question we now face is, "How will our actions,
intentions and their reverberations affect our future?"
For some, the new millennium signals Armageddon the beginning of a
destructive process, the bitter end, a meltdown and a failure.
Predictions of "payback time" abound as condemnation for a
society that went wrong. For others, the new millennium presents a
myriad of challenges and wondrous possibilities for advancing
ourselves on multiple levels.
When we take time to reflect upon the communication technology of the
twentieth century, the advances that shaped the last 100 years seem no
less than mind-boggling. In fact, the last 10 years of technological
advancements have radically changed our world in ways I never imagined
Vistas of connectivity are now virtually without boundaries. The
Internet unites people who never would have stumbled upon each other
before. A stamp collector in Kansas now enjoys the opportunity of
sharing information with an Asian aficionado in a manner simpler and
cheaper than picking up a phone. A patient in Australia now has the
same access to my column as one who lives just a block away.
And it's more than just information that's shared. While people are electronically
transferring pictures, music, videos, and programs at speeds never imagined
possible previously, whatâs really occurring is an exchange of ideas, concepts
and insights that are shaping society.
The critics however state that while striving to facilitate
information access, we're steadily growing further apart as a society.
They cite the propensity for involution rather than working together.
The world wide web is condemned as a convenient means to evolve
separately, to retreat in isolation, and to lose real contact with one
another. They also point out the fact that false information serves to
mislead those in need.
While misguided technology has the potential to lead us astray, our
reality essentially boils down to choice. While a medical textbook in
the hands of a physician or student can help to save many lives, it
can also be used to hit someone on the head. As ridiculous as this
analogy seems, advances in technology were never created to destroy
When one closely explores the vast expanse of information virtually at
our fingertips, new responsibilities become apparent. Just as one
would not meander into their local bookstore and pick up just any
magazine or book, the resources on the net have to be sifted, screened
and compartmentalized according to our particular needs. In a similar
manner, while some people spend 10 hours a day watching game shows and
soap operas, others simply retreat to the web. Unhealthy choices will
always exist in the midst of positive advances.
While the future is uncertain, I'm personally convinced that
technology in the new millennium will more rapidly and efficiently
enable us as a society to move in both positive and negative
directions determined exclusively by our choices.
In medicine, we now have the greatest opportunity in the history of
mankind to work together synergistically. Intellectual and spiritual
contributions are no longer separated by time and distance.
Interdisciplinary teams of dedicated individuals are building virtual
networks literally meetings of minds focused on enabling people to
help themselves. This is our chance to take a stand, to conquer
dis-ease and to reach our greatest potential. This is our chance to
demonstrate an example of camaraderie that can positively shape the
course of healthcare for generations to come.
We are now beginning to write a chapter for future
generations that demonstrates our commitment to improve the quality of human
existence. The need to move past
traditional boundaries, to share information and to join forces represents a
major paradigm shift that will usher in the new millennium not as a
technological era, but rather as an age of collective consciousness focused on
the betterment of mankind. I urge you to use the gifts of technology wisely to
positively shape our future. Mind over Matter!
© 1998,1999 Barry Bittman,
MD all rights reserved
Contact Dr. Bittman