Newspapers and magazines are featuring reflections for the past year, it being the end of the second decade of the 21st century. There is considerable debate about whether we are improving or going to hell in a hand basket. It depends on which side is asked. No, actually that’s not quite right. Everyone agrees we’re going to hell, but the point of disagreement is: who’s at fault? The clear answer is: the other side!
How in the world did we get into such a mess? It didn’t happen overnight, that’s for sure. I believe it started a generation ago with the reaction of young men to the idea of being drafted and sent to a fairly certain death in Viet Nam. Phrases like ‘credibility gap’ were coined that came to explain how little we trusted the government. That mistrust began to leak into the media, with the infamous war between Nixon and the press which ultimately resulted in Watergate. Then entertainment picked it up, with the new wave of directors and actors displaying unbridled cynicism about nearly everything.
Then the two political parties fell apart with the impeachment of Bill Clinton. When HIllary asked Newt why they were doing it, allegedly he replied, “Because we can.” I take that to mean, “Our constituents will not disagree with anything we do, no matter how craven.” Now that’s true of both political parties.
Obama managed to slide through by not doing much of anything and having not a whiff of scandal. Nonetheless, the Tea Party was ascendant, making an even bigger mockery of the virtual reality in government actions. Now we have Trump. I’d say he represents the beginning of the end for us. It’s time for a major effort at rehabilitation.
But if we are so divided in what we believe is right, how can rehab happen? Based on history, it means the action-oriented will come on first – like Madame DaFarge and her crew depicted in Dicken’s Tale of Two Cities. They’ll wreak havoc that will make the peace demonstrations of the 60’s look like child’s play. As we have no king (in theory), politicians of all stripes will likely be targeted for removal – and not necessarily at the ballot box. This group will declare a field day on their removal; then realize there’s nobody to take their place.
Then we’ll try on different forms of governance, from dictatorship to oligarchy to anarchy to dystopia. That will likely take at least another generation. So, for us older folks, that may be the good news: by the time things get to dystopia, we’ll be dead and gone!
Is there anything that can be done to stop this? I don’t believe there is. The arc of history says it’s time for us to go, just like so many others in the past. So my message is: love your family, enjoy every day that comes, and don’t be sad when it happens, ’cause you heard it here first and shoulda been prepared.