May I tell you a little story…? Stick with me for three minutes, because it could help connect all the dots of crisis, crashes and confusion.
Bill was riding his usual morning commuter train. But on this particular day he sensed the train traveling faster than usual. It even started rattling on the tracks. Bill was so concerned he decided to check. Walked through one car, two cars, finally reached the front car and the engineer’s cabin. Just in time, for by now the riders were all getting concerned. He knocked on the door…no response …he knocked again …finally in a panic he pushed the cabin door open.
What he found was — no one at the controls.
In many ways that train is our civilization hurtling faster and faster, but with no one at the controls. It has become a force that lives and feeds on itself, while leaders occasionally prance in front of international cameras pretending, hoping, they can somehow manage this force. But as the riders start suspecting no one is really in control, we have “social unrest.”
This unrest is now playing out in the streets of Cairo, Damascus, London, Wall Street, and college campuses in between. The unrest gradually becomes a counter-force. Representing an angry but vague sense of growing desperation, for it can feel civilization rattling on the tracks. In contrast, there are those running our great institutions who instinctively resist this threat.
Nothing new here. Force from the top; counter-force from below. It’s the ancient story of rebellions and repressions [see from Spartacus to the French Revolution for details]. Only this time what IS new is the way in which Traditional Media and Social Media are helping this dynamic play out. The voices of institutional authority [government, schools, religion, military] appear on the 5:30 news and on the Sunday Morning Talk Shows speaking order; the fearful voices now without faith in these institutions [young, poor, jobless, disenfranchised] are in cyberspace speaking anxiously with one another.
Something old is happening but in a new format which plays out faster, more organized, more global than ever before. The owners of the commuter train know they have a run-away on their hands; but unless someone gets to those controls, the owners, the riders and the train itself may crash all at the very same ugly time.
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