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Shankari Chandran’s Dystopian Warning

Dearly beloved reader… when I say future, what will you think about? Maybe you’ll think about flying cars and vacations to Mars. Or, maybe you’ll think of your own family in a nice house, with a car in front, a dog and kids running around in the back yard. Or maybe you think of yourself in your big boss chair, leading you own multinational corporate empire. No matter what you think, I can wager that in most cases it will be something nice, because that is our human nature: to think of and hope for the best.

People have always wished for the best when thinking of the future. Isn’t that one of the reasons why we all came to university: to carve out a better future for ourselves? However, sometimes, no matter our hopes and dreams, life and events outside of our control can derail us from our set path. This can be anything from a presidential election in a faraway country, a political gamble gone wrong closer to home, or a scientific experiment running out of control on a different continent. What do we do then? We can all feel small, powerless, insignificant. What should we do? What can we do? … Prepare.

In times when things are good, we can prepare for when things go wrong. This is something that we can all do right here, right now, every day. 'How' you might ask?!  It’s actually quite simple: by listening to what people like Shankari Chandran have to say.

The university has made quite a good habit, I would say, out of periodically organising free public lectures with world class thinkers and public figures. Such a public lectures was organised this week, hosting author and former Social Justice Lawyer Shankari Chandran. During this lecture, among other things, she spoke about her recent book, ‘The Barrier’.

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Now, as a disclaimer, I haven’t yet read the book, although I do plan to after attending the lecture. However, as an overview, The Barrier is a thriller novel, presenting a dystopian future where the world was literally destroyed by a virulent strain of Ebola and a series of religious wars. This is a pretty bleak vision of the world, if you were to ask me, however, maybe not as fictional as you might think. The chances of a global pandemic, similar to the 1918 Spanish Flu are greater than ever, considering how interconnected our world has become and how certain bacteria are becoming resistant to modern antibiotics. 

However, no need to despair! We have the solution, literally, in front of us: culture… education… knowledge. These are our tools. On one hand, we can learn to develop new technologies and cures to keep our world going. This is what we are already doing, as students: learning to make the world better. On another hand, we can develop our wisdom, by attending lectures featuring experts such as Shankari Chandran and thinking about things which might not have anything to do with our degrees, but might have everything to do with our lives, and our future.

If this has sparked your interest, check out the University’s public lecture series. Also, if you would like to know more about “The Barrier”, here is the official page and the Goodreads link for the book.

I know this post was a bit dark and bleak, so here’s a picture of a cute hedgehog to brighten you up.

Yours faithfully,

Andrei


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