by Mike Meyer
In times of serious and fast change we find ourselves living on the edge. Sometimes it seems there are nothing but edges. Edges mark the end of something and, perhaps, the start of something else.
At some point living on the edge means jumping to something else. And that is a starting edge but still an edge. We must move from edge to edge. That’s really all we have now. Almost everything is either just starting or, most commonly, about to finish.
The most iconic symbol of this age is the polar bear on a small ice patch. He is definitely in trouble. His ice patch is shrinking whether fast or slow and soon it will be gone and, unless he finds something to jump to, he’s also going to be gone. We all know the feeling but some of us react more violently to these edges than others.
It was once different and there were few edges. If you are old enough to remember the seventies and eighties there were very few edges then. In America, at least, we were right in the middle of a large land mass. Things went on around us pretty much out to the horizon and the event horizon extended far into the future. Jobs were usually longer term affairs and mortgages were thirty years.
Things were changing but they weren’t changing that fast. New stuff kept popping up but they weren’t so quickly disruptive. Cell phones were cool but they were too big to put in a pocket. Then there were iPods for music but those just started to replace portable CD players.
We hadn’t really defined disruptive yet. Moving from VHS cassette tapes to DVD’s was an improvement, not a disruption. We were getting comfortable with technology change because it was pretty easy. And older people simply opted out and that wasn’t much of an issue. That is what started me on this thought. When you are on the melting edge opting out is not available. You must jump or die.
Not only have we lost any confidence in duration or stability but all the edges are often jagged. We are all nursing cuts and abrasions from navigating ice flows that are not only melting from global warming but with nasty and sharp edges.
Economically we lost ground in the Great Recession but that actually marked the loss of something far greater. Our cultural continent began to break apart. The economic failure of 2008 was never corrected and is building to happen again.
But the real tragedy was that the middle class in America lost their place to stand. Minorities and the working poor never had a place to stand but the middle class once did. It’s not a matter of recovery but a matter of having a place from which to move our world. Yes, Archimedes said, give me a lever and a place to stand and I can move the earth.
The misdirection is always pointing to the levers. You still have your lever, the rulers say, but a lever with no stable place to place it is a worthless tool. Hence the confusion. We no longer have anything that we an confidentially will be there in five years. Things are not stable and tip out from under us all the time.
The only people with a place to stand are billionaires. They have been given our land and have built mountains from which they can lift to move whatever they want. They bought our politicians to do this and they succeeded.
There is constant talk about a booming economy, really just a booming stock market for the billionaires. For the great majority the only thing happening is that money is being loaned again. But bankers have found new tricks to play the same old game and the folks who bought Trump’s lies are borrowing again for new trucks. The last time that happened the whole thing went boom and where did all the money go?
Most younger people know only the criminal capitalism of America and are not so easily fooled. Borrowed money doesn’t feel safe anymore when you are always on the edge. How soon are we going to hit the ice water with that polar bear when what we are in tips over?
People get crazy living on the edge. They start seeing the world as a flat little circle that they’re riding. Is that where this flat earth stupidity came from? Maybe so. It doesn’t make sense any other way. It doesn’t make sense at all but when you only know life on the edge what does it matter. Now that is scary.
It seems that there are more things ending than beginning. I don’t think that is true but the new things on the starting edge are hard to understand because we only see the edge. While old things on the ending edge are sad and something we may not want to see go but it is melting away.
America seems to have nothing but ending edges. Trump is totally unaware of anywhere except where he is and no one wants to be there. The presidency has ended. The parties are ending. Nothing works anymore.
The climate is ending. Hurricanes are bigger, wilder, and the rain is harder and longer. The waters are rising and the edges are getting nearer.
Religion is ending. That is being met with mostly relief but quickly followed by nostalgia for some and panic for others who didn’t realize the edge was that close.
Politics on the edge doesn’t offer much hope.
The only way back is for people to start tying themselves back together to make a new, stable place to stand. All of the old politics is floating and trying to trick us into giving up our place to stand on this planet. They want to give it all away.
We can organize and have a place to place our levers and move the world. But we better get started before what we are on tips over.