FUNDING AT LAST
published in The Tabloid No.1, Imagine
The Future, Winter 1993
a significant demonstration of support for what at
the time was little more than a good idea, the Commission
for Missions of the Uniting Church (Victorian
Synod) has committed $50,000 to Imagine The Future from its Special
made the grant in the hope that other groups would
be captured by the vision Imagine The Future offered,"
explained the Church's Commissioner for Missions,
Rev. Barry Prior.
seemed to us that Imagine The Future was a very creative
initiative that took us past the boundaries of environmental
and technological concerns to look at the future in
a much more integrated way that involved the whole
of what life is about," he said. "It took up the issues
of ecology and economics of course but also focussed
on quality of life within the total community - including
the sort of spiritual values that give people's lives
were also attracted by the buzz and excitement of
the thing and about the possibility that Imagine The
Future presented for raising major issues of today
that are quite clearly also going to be important
in the next decade and the next century," he said.
of these issues of course, is unemployment and the
personal trauma associated with it.
Australia we have a whole generation of young people
who have been scarred for life," Barry commented.
"In part, because we as a community have been unable
to deliver on the promise that if you worked hard,
got yourself an education and did the right things,
you'd get a job - which would then somehow move you
into a nice bright future.
hundreds of thousands of young people all over Australia,
that has not proved to be true," he said. "Many of
these young people have suffered the problems that
come with rejection, with not finding an appropriate
niche or a sense of purpose in life. Now they are
totally disillusioned: they have nowhere to go and
they are quite aimless..
feeling is that even if they find a job tomorrow or
next month or next year - or even in the next decade
P they will carry these scars for the rest of their
lives. And I think we as a total community may in
fact have to live with the implications of their scarring
for the rest of our lives too.
this post-Enlightenment society, some of the old shibboleths
are at last being questioned," Barry reflected. "The
notion that simply through the advance of capitalism
and liberal democracy, through the advance of knowledge
and technology, we are going to create a utopian Heavenly
City here on Earth - that just isn't true" he said.
if those old shibboleths have failed us, what now?
From what do we build a society that is, if not a
Heavenly City on Earth, then at least qualitatively
better than the present?
can only answer from a personal point of view" Barry
said. "I think that the 'small is beautiful' movement
of the 1970s has a lot in it - and we could go back
and mine that. I think a movement towards much more
community life and espousing a community lifestyle
is an important and positive step we can take. I think
we've got to get away from the emphasis upon the individual
and on privatised lives in very small family groups
for example. I'd like to see people organising their
lives around larger groups which you might like to
that, I think there are some major justice issues
we have to address and I'm quite despairing about
that because I guess the thing I worry about most
is the unequal distribution of power within the community.
And the fact that there are powerful groups of people
making major decisions which affect the lives of people
almost everywhere, and we ordinary people have great
difficulty in even accessing the decision makers.
or other, as a world community, we have to discover
new ways of deciding our destiny together, rather
than having those decisions taken for us by big companies
and big government. That I think is one of the most
significant things we need to address."
decision making, fostering a sense of community, mining
'small is beautiful', challenging powerful groups
in our society, nurturing the spiritual values that
give people's lives meaning - all 'significant things'.
'significant' for Imagine The Future to grapple with
alone. But perhaps, as Barry Prior presaged, Imagine
The Future can initiate some real conversations about
these issues. And from such dialogue perhaps real
change will come. So let's talk. About real things.
About the future. About what kind of society we want.
Imagine The Future Inc 1993