Many there are, who seeing the violent turmoil raging throughout large parts of the world, together with the devastating impact of man-made climate change, fear humanity and the planet is on the verge of destruction. Those religiously inclined – particularly those sitting on the far right of the spectrum, point towards various passages in sacred texts, which they believe accurately describe these times and proclaim them to be ‘the end times’. Apocalyptically understood, through the prism of doctrine, to be not simply the annihilation of a sin-drenched humanity who according to the ‘judgment of the just’ no doubt deserve it, but the obliteration of the Earth itself. This doom-laden interpretation of events cultivates fear, suffocates hope and fails to recognise the good amongst the black flags and chaos.
Fortunately there is an alternative, sunnier view of the present time, a common sense albeit controversial vision that creates hope (something that is in short supply), not fear and despair. It is a quieter voice which remains largely buried under the worldwide blanket of anxiety and insecurity, it says these are not ‘the end times’ but transitional times; that we are not witnessing the ‘end of the world’ or the slow demise of humanity, but the final cries of a crumbling civilisation in terminal decline. A civilisation built over the last two thousand years or so in response to certain conditioning influences promoting specific values and ways of living; an out-dated and in many ways, to many people, inadequate mode of organising society that is now collapsing, and rightly so.
That there is great resistance to change is clear; those who have benefitted most under the present socio-economic model, fearful of lost privilege, seek to tighten their grip on power and silence those troublesome radicals demanding social justice, freedom, environmental responsibility and democratic participation. Regime response to social revolutions throughout North Africa – the ‘Arab Spring’ – violent suppression in Turkey and Brazil, Thailand and Venezuela, are examples of governments’ unyielding brutal response to the united cries of the people. Cries that have echoed throughout the world, north south, east and west over the past thirty years or so, in an unprecedented movement of popular activism to claw back rights and liberties, confront government corruption and demand social justice, as well as standing up to corporate development plans led by ideologically driven international agencies (namely the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank) and environmental abuse. Huge numbers have marched, demonstrated and rallied: ‘people power’ – ‘the worlds second superpower’ is perhaps the brightest spark of optimism in the world and is one of the clearest signs of the times in which we are living: times of change, times of transition and action, times of opportunity and hope.