We’re 14 years into a new century, which is typically how long it takes for a century’s unique characteristics to show up. The 20th century, for example, looked a lot like the 19th until 1914; from there on it looked a lot different. So I think this is a good time to take a look at our new century and see how it’s shaping up.
I see two particular things that are defining the mainline culture just now. Let’s go with the easy and obvious one first:
The 24-Hour Fear Cycle
Nothing makes humans easier to manipulate than fear. Get a group of Homo sapiens afraid of something and most of them will run wherever you want them to. Unfortunately, all the manipulators of our time know this and are maximizing their use of it.
On top of that, we have a 24-hour news cycle, and nothing rivets eyeballs to screens like fear. Good news, as we all know, doesn’t sell papers.
There have always been bad things happening on Earth. Take the truly horrifying stories that pop up here and there of women killing their own children. Sadly, these have always been with us, but they weren’t blasted on five or ten news channels 24/7. Likewise, horrifying stories from the Middle East or in Africa; these are very definitely nothing new. What’s new is using these stories as tools… tools to make Homo sapiens run to where you want them.
Here’s the reality:
Violent crime is decreasing, and significantly.
Deaths in fires are dropping:
Disaster losses are falling too:
I could go on, but you get the point. Lots of things are getting better in real life, but no one thinks so because everything’s getting worse on TV. Fear works.
One final example: Here’s a list of events from a year that generally inspires no fear in us—1970:
|March 6||A bomb being assembled by terrorists explodes, killing three.|
|April 8||47 children are killed by (peacetime) bombs from a neighboring country.|
|May 4||Soldiers kill four American college students.|
|May 8||A huge mob of construction workers in New York attacks protestors.|
|May 14||Police fire on a crowd at a college, killing two and injuring 12.|
|June 9||A bomb explodes at New York police headquarters.|
|July 12||Two canisters of tear gas are thrown into the British House of Commons.|
|Aug. 7||Terrorists take a judge hostage in California, then kill him.|
|Sept. 1||An assassination attempt on the King of Jordan.|
|Sept. 6||Terrorists hijack four airplanes on flights to New York.|
|Oct. 5||Terrorists kidnap a British diplomat.|
|Oct. 10||Terrorists kidnap a Canadian Minister. He is found dead a week later.|
|Nov. 25||Terrorists seize the headquarters of Japan’s defense forces.|
|Nov. 27||An assassination attempt on the Pope.|
|Dec. 3||A major government caves and releases five terrorists.|
|Dec. 4||Spain declares martial law.|
|Dec. 7||A Swiss ambassador is kidnapped.|
|Dec. 13||Martial law is declared in Poland.|
These events were accepted in 1970. People thought they were sad, but they didn’t panic over them. I don’t think that would be true in this 21st century. We are living in a fear soup, which is being stirred by the overlords of the age. And it’s working for them.
There’s a great line in the Bible that says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” And that is exactly what we’re being treated to from the mainstream culture right now. This is a second defining characteristic of our new century.
How many of us can answer this question in any positive way?:
Where is Western civilization going?
In this 21st century, we have no vision, no goal, no direction. And that’s a very bad thing.
Lots of modern people want to live healthier and longer, but to what end? So they can eat more fancy food? So they can have sex a few more times? To what great future does that lead?
Millions of 21st-century people want to get rich, but what do they do with their big pile of money? Is it just to look at? To salve their insecurities? To prove their superiority?
Money is a fine tool, a good thing to have, but anyone who thinks it’s going to make them into some kind of superior person has a big surprise coming. The one thing they may get from it is status, but only in the eyes of shallow people.
At one time, the men and women of the West did have goals. At one time, they strove to attain righteousness, to love their neighbors, and to eliminate slavery. (And yes, I’m talking about the early Middle Ages.) Was this universal and perfect? Of course not, but it was quite real and quite effective, no matter what pop history says.
Even during my youth, we had a vision: We were sending men to the moon, then outward from there. However poorly the effort was handled, it was a real goal, and one that positively affected millions of us.
Now there are no goals, no striving, no searching, no becoming. Instead, we have distractions, fears, and stasis.
Humans need goals, and we as a civilization currently have none.
The Current Necessity
So what do we do about this?
The common reflex is to “reform the system,” but I think that’s a tragic mistake. There’s a line from Emerson that goes like this:
We are always getting ready to live, but never living.
And that’s precisely what the usual path will get you. Always “gonna live soon” but never actually living.
“Things will change as soon as we get X out of office.” “They’ll change as soon as we get Y into office.” “As soon as we change the Supreme Court!”
You can chase these rainbows for decades, but it ends up making no real difference. One day you’ll wake up and realize that you’re old and nearing the finish line… and that the system still sucks.
So, I recommend that you dump all of that and get busy changing the world directly. Forget the visionless 21st-century culture and start creating your own vision. Read, learn, choose! And get busy doing.
Without a vision, we stagnate, we walk in circles… we perish.
Don’t live in that trap.
A Free-Man’s Take is written by adventure capitalist, author, and freedom advocate Paul Rosenberg. You can get much more from Paul in his unique monthly newsletter, Free-Man’s Perspective.