I’m fairly certain that at the height of the American Revolutionary War, the American Civil War, the Second World War, and the Cuban Missile Crisis, more than a few American citizens may have entertained thoughts that the path in which the country was on was doomed, and racing headlong toward oblivion. I am further sure that the feeling was likely shared in other countries around the world in similar circumstances.
Indeed, who knows what the average Roman citizens were thinking in 476 AD when the last Emperor Romulus Augustus was deposed by the Barbarians tribes. For a civilization that is currently more technologically advanced (in so many ways) than any other time in human history, we seem more eager than ever to ignore the important lessons of the past, acting impulsively and arrogantly as if we are so different, so completely immune from the mistakes and frailties of previous generations.
We worry about war, disease, political in-fighting, finite resources, fluctuating populations, etc. But surprise, everybody; we’ve been through this before. Our species has managed time and time again to unravel itself down to a hard core, and then spool itself back again better than ever.
History does tend to repeat itself.
Perhaps the REAL reason why things might be different this time comes from the smallness of the modern world, the vulnerabilities that come from the vital inter-dependencies between nation-states, and the technological capabilities and willingness of a few dark souls to wipe out whole population centers with relative ease.
An aside: Merely shutting down the North American power grid for 30 days would change the landscape and lives of the continent in ways that the average citizen can’t begin to imagine. If hackers can penetrate government systems, those of the energy variety can’t be that much harder to dork with. Think about that the next time you are in your climate controlled bathroom, lights on, clean water available on tap, and your smartphone with the favored social media app silently charging within arm’s reach.
But, perhaps, we are afforded yet again the opportunity to gaze deeply into the abyss and figure out how to avoid it before it becomes a matter of “when” and not “if.” Maybe we survive this period as a species in spite of ourselves. The resiliency of mankind can not be understated. More people still willingly choose self-determination over slavery.
That said, don’t let the occasional unfathomable headlines of the day, the inexplicable actions of a few, or the wild pendulum swings of societal morays near and far poison YOUR personal outlook about the future. We’ve seen far worse, and still managed to turn things around. But it doesn’t magically happen by itself; somebody has to initiate the change.
So, it has to start, or at least, include YOU.
Get out front, make a difference whenever and wherever you can. Be the example for others to follow. You may or may not live to see the totality of the impact emanating from your ripples in the general pond of humanity, but know that enough like minded folks can certainly make a wave that can raise many boats. The time to sit silently on the sidelines has ended. One can either make history, or be uncontrollably swept away from the forces generated by parties not inclined to take the liberty and freedoms of others in consideration.
My two cents. Your mileage may vary.