February 19th, 2018

On a new course in the world’s history

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on January 31, 2018.

There is a strange signal running through the world right now. It comes from no one source or cause, but it permeates the atmosphere like the smell of ozone just before a rainstorm.

It’s a kind of dread mixed with a touch of hysteria, and grounded in a defensiveness. You see this manifested on the nightly news, in late-night talk shows and even the Grammys on Sunday had a bit of that edge, in its desperate attempt to stay relevant as the greater tide sweeps ever outward and away from such pop cultural touchstones.

Is it because we are living in fictitious times, as “Fahrenheit 9/11” director Michael Moore once quipped while accepting his Academy Award? Or is it because the times are all too real with no convenient fictions to hide ourselves behind?

For those inclined to think it might be the latter, there is plenty of evidence out there to back that opinion. The whole world is becoming more unmasked and more unfiltered, and the face we see behind that facade can be quite ugly. Race relations tied together by the merest sinew of hope for greater harmony in both Canada and abroad. Formerly permeable trans-national boundaries for trade and citizenship becoming more and more encrusted by rising nationalism and tribalism. The ugly spectre of a new axis of tyrants emerging to challenge the foundations and survival of democratic ideals in a world which has been disappointed by their accompanying corruption once too often.

What good is democracy with so many out there willing to sell parts of it away so cheaply? That is what the Chinese, for example, whisper in the ears of so many today. And so too the Russians, the Turks, the Venezuelans, and many others, who now live in shams of democracies.

And which of us is immune to doubt when the times get low?

There are no easy answers to this dilemma. No way to shut out the signal, no matter how much we may try to do so. And no easy fictions to hide behind; not even one ridiculous little, old, lone surveillance bush a la “Corner Gas.” The truth is we dread what we do not know. We fear what we do not understand. And hysteria comes on us from the unbalancing of certainty.

We are on a new course in the history of the world, for good or for ill. Might as well buckle up for the ride and see where this presently turbulent course will take us.

(Tim Kalinowski is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to http://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions.)

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