Wednesday, 9 November 2016
The end of the world as we know it. (Or what Trump and Brexit have in common).
I have believed for some years that this age, the age of modernism, is ending and a new age is coming. I think that the times we are living in now can be compared to our teenage years, where we reject the ideas and rules of the authorities we have grown up with (parents, school, church etc) and try on new identities and new values as we search for who we are going to be as adults.
As anyone who has been a teenager knows, some of what we try on for size can be pretty out there! We believe passionately position A one day, only to swing to position B equally fervently. We try new looks that make us blush with shame in later life. We may break the law, experiment with substances or pick fights. We may fall in love with highly unsuitable role models. But who we are as teenagers is not the end result, but a vital transition into being our own people.
So it is with these times. Voting for Brexit and Trump is not, I believe, the identity we want to keep, but a necessary revolt against the old authorities. We, particularly in the western world, have largely lost faith in big institutions, whether they be big politics, religion or economics (and for good reason!). We see the stale corruption in all these authorities who we once trusted so implicitly and we are rebelling, just as teens rebel. I don't believe we want our world shaped in the values shown by Brexit or Trump but these choices are a necessary transition to whatever is coming next.
And just as when we rebel as teenagers and our parents, school etc attempt to crack down on us to make us conform, so the dying institutions are doing the same, hence the rise of fundamentalism in religion, in government and in capitalism. Power is not lost lightly and so we are living in painful times as the old order passes and the new is yet to rise.
If you believe that humanity is evolving then there is great hope in these times as, once we have passed through this adolescence, the next generation or the one after will model a better way to be a human adult in this world. If you believe we are travelling in the other direction then these times are surely a sign that the end of the world - for humanity at least - is coming. I choose to be optimistic.