my daughter meg sent me an article posted at the wall street journal's web site. it's about a russian academic named igor who's been predicting that the US has a fifty percent chance of collapsing by 2010. what upsets me isn't that this guy thinks that - it's a free world, he can think what he want, after all, and of course he says stuff like that; im sure it's bought him a very nice life in an otherwise not so nice place - and it isn't the idea of the US collapsing by 2010.
what upsets me is not that the wall street journal has published this information - though i have to ask myself why - but that my daughter thought i'd be interested in the first place.
why'd she send it to me? well... i have a feeling its because the article scared her. and when you are afraid, a young mammal instinctively turns to its parent. this is real fear, too, the real fear that was unleashed by the fudd/barbie campaign. now it's got no platform and it's howling like a wolf in our streets.
i was told just last night by an otherwise intelligent (at least i think she's intelligent) person that we are "in pre world-war-two conditions" and she's gone out and bought herself a gun. this is not someone who lives in even remote an area as i do. this is someone who lives in a neighborhood - on a street - presumably one full of kids and traffic and ordinary people living their lives. and she's terrified.
well, i'm not. maybe there's a fifty-fifty chance the world could end tomorrow - but i doubt it. maybe there's a fifty percent chance the us could collapse and there'll be rioting and martial law and fire in the streets... but i doubt it.
however, let's say the absolute worst happens and the world goes dark. im still not afraid.
are we such weenies we can't see the potential?
ive been doing a lot of thinking about king arthur lately. my new story is set against the backdrop of an arthurian archaeological dig, and to figure out what they might've found (no more silver cauls for me, thanks!) i've been rereading a lot of my old arthur stuff.
it's interesting to read the history set against the backdrop of THESE dark times, because it does, let's face it, feel like the barbarians might be at the gates. old things ARE collapsing - look at bernie madoff. people are talking about the institutions and the people affected by his fraud, but what about the systemic poison that he and his cronies pumped into the financial system while no one was looking?
so if we're talking about systems collapsing and walls tumbling down, i'd say there's a few systems that need such serious overhauling i don't see why it would hurt to start over again with something else. i think there're plenty walls that could stand to come down. every time an empire falls we're given another chance to put something better in its place. maybe instead of cowering on our couches behind our guns and bags of chips, we might begin to imagine what that Better Thing might be.
but the Powers-That-Be - including those who run the wall street journal - have no interest in creating a mindset that encourages people to think of alternate realities in which the Powers-That-Be might not maintain control. instead, people like igor the russian, are paid to say things that are pretty much guaranteed to scare people, and other people get paid to make sure that as many of us as possible know what he thinks.
people gripped by fear are the easiest to control.
so what does king arthur have to do with all this? when the western empire began to collapse in the late fourth, early fifth century CE, britain alone among all the provinces organized itself into an independent state, and held back the barbarian onslaught for nearly a 100 years. this is the real legacy of arthur, why his story shines like gold through the ages, as encrusted with petty aduluteries and incestuous children and fantastical events as it may be.
it's not REALLY about a king and a bunch of knights and round table and a funny old guy with a long white beard who makes magic. it's not even about how personal flaws bring down great leaders though that's the part of the story most obvious to see in real life.
it's about how when the lights really WERE going off and the barbarians really WERE at the gates, a group of people banded together to preserve all that they could of what they loved about their way of life. it was britain that stood as civilization's last stand in europe, the bulwark between the pillagers and the irish nuns and monks, where the light of antiquity burned beneath their frantic fingers. if the irish saved civilization, as thomas cahill claims - and i like to think ;) - it was the romanized british who made it, to some degree, possible.
and so, i have no doubt that should the worst really happen and should the us really fall - though i REALLY don't believe it will happen: the Powers-that-be dont REALLY want that to happen (they just want us to believe it COULD happen) - out of the chaos will come those of sound mind, strong body and great heart, in whom the spirit of arthur and all he has come to stand for, continues to burn.
and maybe something even better, something radically different from anything that's gone before - will be born. maybe we've reached the place at last in our evolution where we can do that, where we can understand that not everything we bring from the past is good, that not everything we were told we should believe is true. old ways and old beliefs MUST die, in order for new ways and new beliefs to take their place. we must ask ourselves what is it that we cling to from the past, and how well does it continue to serve?
the darkness is coming, you say? i say, all the sooner comes the dawn.
and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.