A renowned futurist told Washington Esperantists on December 16 that the world language they support has a unique opportunity to become a key part of the future world that’s already under way.
DAVID PEARCE SNYDER was the featured speaker at the Esperanto Society of Washington’s annual Zamenhof Day banquet. “We’re in the future right now,” said Snyder, who has appeared on ABC News “Nightline,” “Today,” CNN and MSNBC. “And we’re all futurists,” Snyder said in his address entitled “Welcome to the New Normal,” which gave an overview of futurism, referencing a wide range of thinkers such as Locke, Newton, von Neumann, Teilhard de Chardin and Kurzweil.
Snyder said the world where it is now, and where it’s heading, gives Esperanto the chance to play a major role. Snyder cited a study by the Pew Foundation confirming that networking will soon be, if it isn’t already, at the very core of existence in the 21st century. Networking, he said, is how we will live in a world informed by the Internet. That means that a world lingua franca like Esperanto – whose very being is all about reaching out and communicating – should be right at home in the new world.
For example, Snyder said, Esperanto could be useful as the means by which the world’s indigenous peoples use the Internet to communicate and collaborate – without submitting to majority languages or cultures. “Esperanto could steal a march on the rest of the world” in fulfilling this need, he said.
Snyder kept returning to the theme of complexity, which he said John Locke defined as things that defy human comprehension – at least for now. He suggested that Esperantists raise the question: Is understanding a complex world easier in Esperanto?
Most futurists agree, he said, that cultural conflicts are among the very greatest challenges today. Esperanto, of course, owes its very birth to Zamenhof’s and others’ passion to heal cultural acrimony.
A lively discussion followed on the many ways in which Esperanto has already proven useful as a conduit, including as a bridge between machine translators. We also discussed the already impressive Esperanto presence on the Internet, but agreed that it can and should be bigger.
Snyder also suggested that Esperantists might make a presentation to a futurist gathering: “Esperanto – the Language of the Future?”