Open and Closed Futures

Open future makes us uncomfortable. We like a closed future that we can anticipate and control. In such a situation, the future is obvious. When the future is uncertain, it becomes unbearable. We desire a closed future. Even open future is unbearable when it is without other humans. Humans cannot be absolutely solitary. But future that is imagined for only for one privileged community, caste, race is totalitarian. Such a future is closed where hope becomes a hauntology. This future to preserve the privileges of a particular community has the challenge to keep marginalizing the other communities. Thus, such a future is in a perpetual danger of being lost and is haunted by its failure. This haunting is the fear of disappearance of the future and along with it also the disappearance of the community that seeks to preserve its privilege.

The fear of a failed future puts it weight on the present and haunts it. This is way of thinking and imagining the future thinks of the future as a successor of the present. It seems to convert the future as today. It is the future of the market. This future exists in completed form and triggers our desire. We want to belong to that future. We then buy that future or vote for that future. Elections are proposing a future that is already a now. Some of us which to continue with the status quo while others focus on the disruption of the present future and hope in an inauguration or birth of a new future. Such a future succeeds the present but as other that moves away from the present. It plunges into the new , the unknown. Such a future is thought as leading to death by those who wish that the future has to be familiar. This radically limits the possibility of leading to the emergence of anything new. Perhaps this future is the invitation of Jesus to cast into the deep. It is the other future that comes after the night of hard work.

Without being constrained by the imagination of new future, we have the challenge to examine the condition of human freedom in the coming future. Often the anticipatable future enables an easy examination of the condition of freedom of humanity. But when the future is unknown and is totally new, it is challenging to imagine the fate of human freedom. Therefor the freedom test is the true test of the future. The future that will chain humans does not deserves to be called the future. The future of humanity is always, therefore, free . When the future is unknown or new , it opens the possibility of a new history.

Jacques Derrida invites us to stay open to these open futures and do the impossible. He gives us the example of Abraham who is invited to sacrifice his only son by God. At this point, the futures promised to Abraham is apparently dead. This means future is unknown and new and Abraham cannot anticipate it. It is not under his control. Yet he stays open to this open future and we know he does the impossible. He offers the sacrifice of his son without offering the same. Thus, the new future offered to Abraham remains in accordance to the promise of God. The old promise is not cancelled but is opened to its fulfilment. The future as new thus involves a rupture and inauguration or birth of freedom. Thus, the future becomes an irruption of freedom. Thus, by the measure of freedom, we can evaluate the kind of future that is imagined and dreamed by us or lived by us.

if we can stay open to the future that is unknown, it is possible for us to guide our condition to a new level of human freedom. Otherwise, we simply surrender to the status quo of the present. This makes the future nothing more than the extended present. We then follow the market that constricts our freedoms even not knowing it. Such a future is afraid of betrayal by those humans that live with us. Thus, fear closes us and we become closed. The future without the other is a future without freedom. The other is not a Hell but a condition of our freedom. Thus, all futures that are without the other are doomed futures. They may have the euphemistic names like heaven , paradise , or Hindu Rashtra. Yet these futures are dark and doomed.

The future that is open is a future in the making and we can participate in the same. It is disruptive as it irrupts giving us no time to anticipate it. But we still have the power to shape the course of that disruptive future. When we guide it to enhance the future of humanity, it will become a bright future. Hence, the challenge is to participate in the future and work our freedom as well as our self rather than be passive product of the powers that shapes the future as an extension of the present. It takes courage to belong to an open futures.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao