There comes a time in history when forces bring about so much deep change that people must strike back and decide how they will reorganize society and adapt to these violent eruptions. These reorganizations or countermeasures are never calm or subtle. They are chaotic and uncivilized affairs. Revolutions. Wars. Civil conflicts pitting families against each other.
One of our biggest failures is that we constantly think of the present as some spear point of time —the furthest point of the story that started so long ago and culminates today. Until tomorrow comes, of course.
But if we were to take the last decade — or perhaps the years since the beginning of this century — we shall not ignore that we are living in a changing time. The seeds were planted years before the arbitrary date of January 1, 2000 but the problems facing our society seem to have escalated since then.
In the Western world, we face major economic calamities, pitting the poor against the rich. We have governments unable or unwilling to check the economic, social and political forces foisting themselves upon people.
Perhaps worse yet, most of us are at a loss at what to do. Some of us want to lurch forward with few questions asked while others blindly jump backward into a false and fake past.
It is no wonder people look to other sources for inspiration and protection against these rushing forces: narrow religions, clannishness, drugs and alcohol, radical politics. you name it.
How else shall we as a society carry each other through these times? What type of protection can we grant each other from these destabilizing forces? Would it be too much to ask us to look back at revolutionary times to understand how those people adjusted to instability.
Hannah Arendt lists the “ambiguous formulations” of once-revolutionary creeds like “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” What type of specific protections can we offer people in this age? Physical safety? Free health care? A decent minimum wage, or a minimum living allowance? The chance at a decent education? A clean, healthy environment?
If these sound like standard political fare, it’s because they are. The answers to the question of how to readjust during these times should be far reaching and complete. It’s all we can do if we are going to push back against these great factors that hold so much influence on so many lives.