When I look at my Instagram feed I’m struck by the weird (at least to me) discrepancy that is shown there. On the one hand there are photos of my garden and of me communing with the backyard chipmunks.
There are also photos from After the Fact, the book I’m in the final stages of producing. A book about, maybe, the rise of fascism, and the changing political and physical climates. Large events that we are living through and, if you are conscious, trying to make sense of.
But I think many of us are stuck on the horns of that dilemma. We wonder how to live our lives in an era of lowered expectations and rising outrage, how to reconcile beauty with cruelty and greed. And I think a lot of us deal with it by becoming obsessed with both ends of that spectrum. We are obsessed with living perfect, photogenic lives and we are obsessed with the fucked up state of our world. That is the continuum we are stuck on, the continuum we bumble through. Our lives.
Of course, if you take the long view, what’s happening these days is actually the norm. The years between, say, 1950 and 2000 were actually an anomaly. In that era we had a rising middle class and politicians and captains of industry who at least gave lip service to serving their constituents and workers.
But that was just a bubble, a weird confluence of events that gave First World citizens hope and rising expectations. Before and after that bubble, though, our civilization was a lot tougher, a lot rougher. That was the norm.
Problem is, we (most of you reading this) came up in that bubble of more or less peace and prosperity. We think that that’s the way things are and should be.
Think again . . . or dream on.