The old, funky television show “The Outer Limits” had one of the most creative openings I can remember. The screen you were watching would begin as a test pattern. Then suddenly it would begin to morph and act erratically as an ominous voice would begin to narrate,
“There is nothing wrong with your television set” it would intone, “Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. For the next hour we will control all that you see and hear. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to the outer limits.”
It seems today that we have entered a place in the outer limits. The speed of change is mind boggling. We are held captive to a test pattern and we feel as if we have no control over our situation and its extraordinary changes.
The subsequent anxiety often expresses itself as a vice-like compression deep in the gut. Our thoughts race around in our skulls first thing in the morning toward what seems an insurmountable finish line. Days become reflective, many times obsessive, about the state of our lives and the condition of our world.
It’s no wonder. I believe we are in an unprecedented time of change, the likes of which have been experienced only a few times before. It’s an evolutionary exclamation point in human history.
Alvin Toffler’s "Social Wave-Front Analysis" looks at history as a succession of rolling waves of change and asks where the leading edge of each wave is carrying us. It focuses our attention not so much on the continuities of history as on the discontinuities–the innovations and breakpoints.
The First Wave in human history was the agricultural revolution. It was during this time we learned to cultivate the land and grow fruits and vegetables from seeds. It lasted for thousands of years.
The Second Wave was the industrial revolution. During this time we learned to harness the energy of steam, coal, and oil to advance the ability of machines to make work more efficient and our lives more convenient. This lasted for hundreds of years.
The Third Wave of human development is what Toffler calls the information age. This movement is only decades in the making and we are still trying to catch up with the speed of its change and its far-reaching impact on what it means to be human.
This is our time…this is when we discover what we are really made of…
That's the irony. Our true character doesn't reveal itself when times are sedate or situations are easy. It emerges when we are brought to the brink of intense challenges. What a great opportunity to strengthen our resolve and build the mental and emotional moxie such times require.