Mucking around out the in world today, everything felt just a bit off. People took extra-long to start moving when the traffic lights changed, the shopping carts in the store were at odd angles, and everywhere, social interaction seemed stunted.
Going outside, one found that the atmosphere was different. The air was hot and without motion. The sunlight seemed purified and yet weak, like the beginnings of winter light. It felt like September in June.
Panic — of the suffocated, smothered, and pervasive kind — appeared in the way people dealt with each other and the tasks before them. Everyone seemed exhausted and baffled, as if some cloud hung in front of them that preventing them from seeing the obvious.
This autumnal feeling clogged the whole day, and it took some hours before the significance revealed itself. Our world is shifting. Not the seasons, but the world itself. We are feeling the effects of the past two centuries of bad decisions, and a Fall is imminent.
We have, in Generation X, known that this moment was coming for a long time. When we were growing up, it was clear to us with our childlike innocence and practicality that adults were insane and also driven mad by death, careers, and the ugliness of everything.
As adults, we saw that we were the few awakened among a sea of sleepwalkers. The people who thought everything was good and getting better were fanatical but hollow. They repeated themselves endlessly, as if trying to convince what was left of their nascent souls.
Now things are coming to a head. Trump, Brexit, and populism are the crest of a wave that began in the 1990s which was an existential dissatisfaction with everything. Modern life had become pointless, rote, and miserable. People wanted out.
No one knew how to say it because all of the things that we might protest were sacred cows. We who devoted our lives to sanity, to having normalcy and a sense of goodness, were interested in that, and not in trying to save everyone who was not striving as we were.
This is not a middle class revolt, but an uprising of a segment from all social classes of people who recognize emptiness when they see it. To be part of this group, you have to have seen both darkness and light, and to know the difference.
We are the ones who can tell the difference between that which is good, organized, and sane, and the rest of it, which is just disorganized thinking leading to insanity and an absence of anything we might call good.
We enjoy life, and we like to bring out the best in life, but we find ourselves in a moribund society obsessed with failure, death, and destruction. All narratives involve the marginalized, the sad, the oppressed, and the doomed. No one talks about the good.
When you experience target fixation like this, you see only the bad and you zoom right into it. We are like the drunk drivers at night who, in trying to stay conscious on the road, drive right into the flashing emergency lights and chuck their cars over the barrier into the sea.
We have target fixation on the negative in the West, or at least we did. Now that the smoke is starting to clear, people are backing away from the negative, and looking toward a desire for normal life instead.
Part of this was the yellow vests protests which essentially asked, “If we are being taxed so much to make a Utopia, why are we working all the time and still broke?”
It is an important question. We have technology, organization, and knowledge but we still work long hours and see little for it. A few get ahead — mostly in technology and government — but everyone else is stuck on the treadwheel.
It seems to me that the West has come to a reckoning with the coming winter. For decades we resisted, wanting to avoid chaos and uncertainty, which bring risk. Now we realize that the current path is so doomed that we need to be ready to hop to something new.
When winter comes, you abandon things that offer nothing of practical value. You focus on stocking up food, sealing the cracks in the house, building up firewood stores, and finding a way to stay cheerful through the long dark months.
Equality promised us perpetual summer, where we divided up the food and everyone was happy and therefore there would be no conflict. That sounded good, until we realized that the “perpetual” part meant that nothing was ever going to change. It was just repetition.
People are frightened, and no one can blame them. Change is difficult; fear is the enemy within that is hardest to beat. However, we realize that the ideas that have propelled our society for centuries have come to their endpoint, and it is not a good place.
All societies self-destruct this way through class warfare. They lose sight of long-term goals, especially intangibles like beauty and experiencing a meaningful and pleasant life. They defer to “what most people think” which is always a minimum that leads to negativity.
We want the return of springtime. For us to get there, we have to go through winter, and in winter all the parasites — mosquitoes, leeches, flies, worms — die back and we are able to know ourselves again in a state without them.
Our society has accumulated parasites high and low. The high ones, called “elites,” make their money running the bureaucracy; the low ones seem to be an endless stream of soyboys, druggies, perverts, criminals, dipsomaniac cat ladies, and endless third world hungry mouths.
The people of the West are ready to make a decision. We are ready to accept that we cannot save everyone, and that we have to cut ourselves free and go on to do great things, instead of focusing on the negative of all the people who are suffering as they have since time began.
Equality has died. Utilitarianism — the idea that what most people think is acceptable — has died. We are ready to shoot for the mountaintops, stars, and flying past the sun again. Our target fixation on the poor, sad, and oppressed killed all that.
But now, a great shift is occurring in the energy of our society. A vast sigh radiates through our lands. We are tired of living in despair, and we are ready to set out on our own, and let the rest of the world face whatever fate it selects for itself.
This seems autumnal. We are, after all, giving up on a dream: the Utopian visions of Rousseau, Marx, Martin Luther King Jr, and Howard Zinn. We are giving up on a secular world where human reason as a generic is prized.
Instead we go into a time where we face a new kind of hardship, and we want the best to lead us. We want answers that are solid in all circumstances. We want a sense of purpose, something to build and create. We want new frontiers.
For too long, we have breathed in half-breaths, afraid to draw in too much of what is around us because we secretly suspected it was diseased. Now we know. Everything we trusted is coming crashing down around us, and we have only ourselves to rely on to build something new.