The world as we know it is about to change. Already it is changing, particularly on a societal level. Look at the facts: In the west we face the return of extreme right wing politics. Coming out of the east is the monster of the so called Islamic state. People are fleeing this in record numbers, escaping any way they can. There are signs that something is coming, something big. It is going to affect all of us.
There is a tendency amongst human beings to think that nothing will change. We see everything around us as permanent, fixed and immutable. We think that the buildings and the institutions around us will always be there; the schools, the railway stations, the shops, the museums… We take shelter in the idea that when we want them all these things will be there for us. We think we’ll always be able to get on a train or a bus to the shops, visit a museum or give children an education. But that isn’t true. Those things we take shelter in, the schools, the trains, the shops… Tomorrow something could happen that means by next week all of them could be gone forever. These things which are the trappings of our civilization and our civilization, like every civilization there has ever been or ever will be, could collapse entirely. It has happened before, look what happened to Rome, to the Aztecs, to the Egyptians. All were once mighty civilizations and now they are gone, ruins that in our own times we wander around as tourists.
That is an extreme example. Although it may happen civilization isn’t definitely going to crumble overnight (barring some massive catastrophe) but we are facing a major change to the world before us, one that may alter all those things we take shelter in. Ten, twenty, thirty years from now we will look back on twenty sixteen and it shall hardly be recognizable to any of us. It won’t be all flying cars and Star Trek style space travel, that would be silly, but in our day to day lives things will be different. The way we carry ourselves will be different, the way we all act and behave. The way in which those things will be different I could not say. None of us can say that for certain because predicting the future is impossible.
We lie, at the present, in the gaps between historical eras, the last age having ended a few years ago and the next as yet unknown. History is by it’s nature all about change. Men are born, they live, they die. In the process some do great things and their deeds are recorded. And in the process the tides of change sweep in and out, altering things in tiny ways that are imperceptible until we look back. Sometimes however, as with the tides, you get a really big wave that sweeps away everything and changes the entire landscape. Call it what you will, supposition or instinct or whatever, but I think that I can see one of those big waves on the horizon.
Already I can see the first ripples of the coming wave. People are fleeing the east in numbers that make Moses’ Exodus out of Egypt look like a Sunday school outing. Whatever happens to them, however all of us deal with this, that alone is going to change us. And as far as politics is concerned people of all ages are turning away from the more ‘traditional’ options (Republicans, Conservatives, Labour etc.) and opting for less savoury characters like Donald Trump. The fact that people are listening to these types of would be politicians, that they are convincing people is a sign that things are afoot, that they’re changing. Where once a candidate like Trump would have been treated by everyone as a joke, laughed from the building, now he’s actually got as far as being the Republican nominee. This lunatic has a shot at becoming the most powerful man in the world. That’s how much things have changed already. TRUMP is a serious contender for the White House. These are only two of the biggest ripples that signify a wave is coming but there are plenty more if you look for them. Putin flexing Russia’s muscles for example. He’s only going to do it more and more in the future, setting up the stage for what could, potentially, become a new cold war if we aren’t careful.
From a historical perspective all that is happening right now looks uncannily like the collapse of that aforementioned Roman empire. The economy of most of the world is in what I’m only going to euphemistically call a perilous state. There’s a barbaric threat pushing millions of people to the west. The politicians, the people who are supposed to be in charge, are either corrupt or tearing each other apart with infighting and self interestedness. Just look at the EU referendum arguments. Not one argument from either side has been anything less than ‘WE’RE ALL DOOMED!!!!’ Backstabbing and self interestedness have always been a part of politics but in the past it was always balanced out with some degree of sanity and statesmanship. Looking at the landscape it seems that statesmanship is now playing second fiddle to all this self interestedness and it is contributing to a fracturing of society. The Roman Empire (in the west) was destroyed by these very same things and that destruction caused such a dramatic alteration within European society that historians still have trouble working out actually what happened and why and when. It was, effectively, a line in the sand of history.
Again, I’m not saying that this change that is coming will be as dramatic as all that. We will all feel it though and we should be prepared for it. Nobody can have a hope of knowing if it will strike hard or come upon us bit by bit or even what it may be that is the eventual spark which triggers it all off. There is nothing we can do to stop it. It will come. We’ve just got to hold on and hope that we make it through.