On many occasions hope has been expressed on these pages that there will even be historians one hundred years from now. Indeed, if this planet is fortunate enough to have the wherewithal to afford the luxury of people who will not have to forage to survive, then hopefully some historical perspective will be possible.
To provide some perspective, 1922 was one hundred years ago, and the changes that have taken place – atomic energy, world war, the dissolution of empires and colonization along with television, radio, jet travel and the assertion of human rights in all of its various iterations – have all been important hallmarks of the past century. We have also seen this planet dance with the twin disasters of climate change and nuclear war and as you read these words literally no one knows how all of this is going to turn out.
So we are left with hope.
Meanwhile, if there is even something called the United States of America that resembles the current nation, it will only be through some combination of the grace of God and dumb luck, with the emphasis on dumb. In real time we have watched forces at work that would, if left unchecked, tear this country into regional, hyper partisan republics that will be the forerunner of something even worse,
And if this seems like a particularly apocalyptic vision, consider the fact that a decade ago it would have been unthinkable that:
- A sitting President of the United States would not participate in the peaceful transfer of power at the end of the term of office;
- An armed revolt and attack on the Capitol to overturn an election would not be possible because…. well because nothing like had taken place since the Civil War in 1861;
- A former President of the United States would not roam through the nation decrying the legitimacy of his successor and have the support of over 60 million well-armed Americans;
- While climate change and environmental disaster are painfully apparent, millions of Americans steadfastly cling to the notion that climate change and environmental disaster are a fantasy;
- Candidates for national and statewide offices throughout the country would have as their central platform the belief in the illegitimacy of the current national government; and
- A hyper partisan Supreme Court would ignore legal protocols and shared concepts of constitutional law to rule in favor of the establishment of a truly authoritarian religious state.
All of these items are part of the current American narrative, and only the most rose-colored belief in the goodness of humanity can sustain a realistic expectation that all of this is going to end well.
That having been said, human history is replete with instances where the right woman or man, the right view of the present and the future, can make inevitable results not so inevitable. And since we know that it is true, it is clearly up to each of us to endeavor to be that right woman or man and avoid the imminent change that is all to near and establish a new reality that will be a wonder to those historians a century from now.