Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Playing For Time

If nothing else, the past ten years have painted a rich tableau of the seismic changes underway in our world. The depletion of non-renewable resources; the exhaustion of renewables; global warming and associated severe weather events; species extinctions and migration; deforestation; desertification; air, soil and water contamination; floods and droughts; the unstoppable migration of pests and diseases; nuclear proliferation and the spread of terrorism; regional arms races; climate migration and overpopulation; and the multi-directional onslaught of global freshwater stocks. Over the past decade how many of these have we fixed? How many have we solved? How many have worsened and how many have improved?

Now consider the next ten years. How many of these issues that confront, sometimes even threaten mankind, are we preparing to remedy? How many of them will we fix or solve by 2020? How many will worsen over the next decade and how many will improve?

And then the clincher. What will our world and our civilization look like with a further decade of erosion on these critical fronts? Will we become a less cohesive, more fractured civilization rent along regional lines staring angrily at each other over a widening chasm that divides the "haves" from the "have nots"? Will mankind's abilities, our strength atrophy as these threats grow ever more powerful? Does anyone seriously believe that mankind is going to be stronger ten years from now than it is today?

The fact is, we in the most advantaged, most affluent West are the key and yet we're still not willing to look beyond our blind faith in growth and prosperity to catch a glimpse of what lies just on the other side. Our leaders, those we've traditionally looked to for vision and guidance? Well they're not leaders, not really. They've long since learned it's far easier to manipulate an electorate with fear, anger and outright deception than to motivate them with vision and guidance.

So what they're doing is playing for time. Why do you think all these religious fanatics have arrived on the political scene today, these "end of times" nutjobs? They see the same world you do only in the context of Armageddon and "The Rapture" when their god sweeps them up into his arms. Their perverse zealotry sees these looming threats as harbingers of divinely better times just ahead and, coming from that perspective, who would want to change anything?

Then there are the weak and feckless secularists, people like Michael Ignatieff. Every now and then they might be able to screw up their courage and blurt out the words "global warming" before morphing into advocates for the Athabasca Tar Sands. Do you think this variety of sickly leadership is going to face up to any of these environmental threats and challenges? If you do, you're only fooling yourself.

No, sorry but these guys are just playing for time. Harper, cozy in his fundie cocoon, doesn't believe there's any need to act and Ignatieff can't muster the courage and vision to do any better.

I'd love to hear one of these ersatz leaders read the opening paragraph of this piece and then respond to the listed questions. These are existential challenges to our civilization, to mankind itself. Don't you think anyone claiming himself fit to lead our country should be able to acknowledge these problems and show us how we should be responding to them? I sure do.

At some point we're not going to be able to duck these problems. They'll overtake us or land unexpectedly on our doorstep, peaceably or otherwise. Are we preparing ourselves to deal with them when that day arrives? No, of course not. But it's not entirely our leaders' fault. It's ours too. We sit by and allow them to just bury their heads in the sand. That suits us too. We're all just playing for time.

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