Sleepwalking into the repeat of history

I had coffee with some old friends the other day; people who had devoted their lives to doing the right thing; never ones to let a cause go unfought. People who took an interest in the world; people whose emotional ebb and flow was determined by the general state of mankind.

They are on the verge of retiring from their posts; of letting life give back to them some of what they worked to build. They looked forward to experiencing the unappreciated and sheer joy of normality. Of living a life where contentment is the goal.

Of strolls down the roads of their local village; of sharing elevenses and opinions with their fellow villagers. Of counting down the years in the knowledge that they had done their bit.

However, they told me that the events of the past few months have changed their perspectives of the time ahead; that they cannot relax now with the state of flux the world is in. And there are many like them who are horrified by humanity being put into reverse mode and sent back through the ages.

The idea of emigrants not being welcome; of children being blown to bits in a television age; of revellers murdered at a music fest; of lives blighted; of dissidents being shielded away to Arctic gulags and then killed in the deathly quiet of the snow and ice. Out of sight in full view of the world, the most dastardly acts are being committed, by perpetrators who do not give a damn about being seen for what they are.

By their actions and the inaction of others, the woes of the world are set to continue. I am reminded of the Nanci Griffith song. “It’s a hard life.”

“It’s a hard life, It’s a hard life, It’s a very hard life,

It’s a hard life wherever you go.

If we poison our children with hatred.

Then, the hard life is all that they’ll know

And there ain’t no place for these kids to go.”

This year will be a defining year in the history of the world. A century ago, fresh from Versailles, ahead of the crash, the conditions were being created for the dysfunction that shaped the following 20 years; and ultimately the shape of the world after that. At that time, the institutions were created to ensure that we would never make the same mistakes; that civilisation would ensure we strive to improve the lot of many and not allow the hatred that has shaped the periods we deem savage to proliferate.

Are we sleepwalking into the same thing again; by electing and tolerating leaders who will, through their toxicity, pour fuel onto the embers and enflame the world? Are we tolerating hatred on our own doorsteps on the basis of ‘sure, that’s what everyone thinks anyway.’

Humanity has been in trauma for some time; we thought the passing of Covid would bring us into the brightly lit uplands of tomorrow; yet, there has been nothing but desolation and depravity since then.

What can we do but learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow, and never stop questioning?

 

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