Are we living in end times?

I think we are

By end times, I do not necessarily mean a biblical style Armageddon, although that may be the worst case scenario.  I do mean the end of a civilisation as we know it, the way the Greek and Roman civilisations fell into decline and died.

We all see the world through our tiny gilded opera glasses.  We each have a minute field of vision on which to base our actions, our attitudes and our beliefs about the world in which we live. For some that vision is veneered in gold, and for others tarnished with personal despair, but for all of us, the largest part of the reality around us is invisible.

So what is that reality?  Can we believe our own eyes? Can we believe anything we are told by others who are similarly vision impaired?

The following is my thinking, based on my narrow view of the universe.

Globally, the western world is trapped with governments whose actions are becoming increasingly bizarre, so much so, that we are caught in the paralysis that results from cognitive dissonance.  We simply cannot believe what is happening around us, so we choose to ignore it. Our governments are seemingly leading us headlong into dangerous levels of economic collapse, dangerous levels of social collapse and total environmental catastrophe.   But they wouldn’t do that, would they?  Why would they?  So we choose not to believe that it could happen.

It’s not really happening, is it?

It is not our view of Australian reality that we have 200,000 white collar households homeless or malnourished or both.  Our government wouldn’t let it happen, would they? So it can’t be real.  Let’s continue to pretend it’s only a few drunk old men, and they want to live that way anyway!

It is not our view of Australian reality that there could be an under-class of significant numbers living below the poverty line.  What is the poverty line anyway?  It has become a meaningless cliche. Well, it is the point at which a person or family can no longer afford the essentials of life, that’s food, clothing and shelter.  Not luxuries, but basic essentials.  Then we glibly add the word “below” to the phrase “poverty line”.   Oh dear, that means they can’t afford what they already can’t afford, so what now?

It can’t be real can it, that 13.3% of the Australian population is going without either food or shelter or both, can it?  So it must be their own fault, those children, those abused women, those elders, otherwise how can we live with knowing that the governments we have elected into power – both of them – are letting this happen? But not only are they letting it happen, they may even be causing it! And it’s not just Australia.  It is the entire western world.

The poverty line (50% of median income) for a single adult was $426.30 a week. For a couple with 2 children, it was $895.22 a week. 2,990,300 million people (13.3% of the population), were living below the poverty line, after taking account of their housing costs.

It is not in our view of any reality, that the world could suffer greater and more unpredictably  catastrophic weather events. We cannot grasp that our environmental vandalism is about so much more than just global warming, as if that is not bad enough. We cannot grasp that our reckless actions have already altered the global weather patterns to the point that our world will never be the same again. Yes, already! So we complain about hotter summers and colder winters and ignore the whole damn thing because our governments wouldn’t let it happen, would they?

And if it really is happening, why does nobody care?

Those of us who remember the 70s, can vaguely remember what optimism felt like, when normal people contemplated normal futures with a mix of fun times and hard times, optimism and pessimism, but always with a vision of the future we thought we could reach for.

We didn’t need creative visualizations and positive affirmations back then.  We simply were creative, and affirmed.  The future looked good, despite ominous warnings from the likes of Rachel Carson in Silent Spring, and despite third world catastrophes.  We had time to fix it, didn’t we?  We knew we could fix it back then so what went wrong?

But now?  Look at the zombie faces of the youth around you and tell me honestly that you see excitement and optimism there.   We are told we should feel optimistic when we feel the deadening effects of pessimism, and worse, grey neutrality, all around us.

And it is no wonder that they have sought refuge in their devices.  Nothing makes sense any more. Chris Hedges summed up the confusion we are confronting, in one of his most famous quotes:

“We now live in a nation where doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the press destroys information, religion destroys morals, and our banks destroy the economy.”

We all feel this. We recognise one or other bit of the story, at any point in time. But we resist putting it all together, because when we do, it becomes too frightening to think about.

So, how do we deal with the truth and not fall into despair?

The only way to be truly optimistic is to confront the totality of what we are facing and work out a way through it.  Avoidance of reality is not optimism.  It is fantasy.

We fight, in any way we know how.

We think.  We stop falling for the lies.  We make our governments, of any colour or persuasion, accountable for their mismanagement.  We hold them to account for the results of their terms in office.  If more people are unemployed, if more people are homeless, if more children are hungry and malnourished, if more people die of preventable diseases, we hold them to account. We forget two party politics. We call ALL of them out, for ALL of their lies, ALL of the time.

We act. We create our own networks where we live as human beings should live, in harmony with one another and the earth.  We create alternative economies, alternative societies. We organise into loyal and caring groups, and work out how to look after one another in a political world that is increasingly unwilling to look after us, the citizens our politicians pretend to represent.  We unite. We stop being so damned offended by every trivial thing. We allow others their vulnerabilities and their inanities, and we create our own safety net for everyone who joins us – given that our governments will not. By doing this we put them on notice.  Pay attention to us, or we will make you irrelevant.

Over to you.  Are you going to think a bit harder?  Are you going to call out the lies? Are you going to unite with others into a community of safety? Or are you going to continue to deny that our governments have gone totally insane?

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