• Graham

This is the way the world ends

This the way the world ends

This the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

The Hollow Men

If you lived in the middle decades of the twentieth century the chances of meeting a sudden and violent death were quite high. On an individual level, as both the death penalty and conscription existed throughout much of that period, it only took a miscarriage of justice or forced participation in an imperial war in Korea or Cyprus to bring life to an untimely end. On a collective level, the whole of the Western World lived under the less than metaphorical cloud of nuclear destruction. At the time it would have been fair to say that if the world were to end it would most probably end with a bang.

It is therefore interesting to see how things might stand a hundred years later. There seems no doubt that the period between 2040 and 2070 will decide the fate of the planet for the foreseeable future. If things remain as they are, the opportunity for life will be seriously threatened and as a consequence mankind will be forced to adopt one of two courses. Either those who already have a monopoly of resources will pull up the drawbridge or there will be some sort of international agreement to share the responsibility for a plan that allows all to survive. The former may work in the short term and is an attractive option for those whose life span approximates to the resources available, but it will be difficult to sustain. The have-nots will also have their eye on the spoils and demand, using such force as necessary, their fair share. So, it would appear logical that the nations of the world, at some point, must agree that the only solution is international accord. That at the very least, no one country can control the world’s supply of water, food and energy to the detriment of another. In effect, to accept the mantra that no one is saved unless everyone is saved. There are, however, at least two existing structures, which put any such hope in jeopardy. The first is the political system of the Western World. Regular election of government, the cornerstone of democracy, tends to encourage short-term thinking with the immediately popular quick fix taking precedence over the less attractive long-term solution. The second is the current economic model of Capitalism that puts profit above mutual benefit.

Perhaps the corona pandemic could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. It has been sufficiently serious to concentrate the global mind, while not being so disastrous to have been completely out of control. Of course, the most obvious lesson to be learnt is the right and wrong way to deal with any future outbreak. But it might make us realise that the current political and economic model is as out of date as the feudal system that preceded it. More particularly, it might make us realise that change is more than a matter of sea levels and, if we are to survive for another millennium, a different global order is required.

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