The world is changing. The climate is changing. The politics are becoming more polarized. The chasm of inequality is growing. Everyday heroes now wear masks.
Any futurist worth their salt will tell you that the world we know will look starkly different in 2030. It could be radically different by 2050.
A look back through history shows us times that were similar to ours and the changes that befell civilization as it was carved into the reality we know and love. Through society’s evolution over the last 10,000 years or so, we have gone through our highs and lows. We have had times of renaissance, and we have had ages of darkness.
The question we must ask is which shall we have next? A Dark Age or a Renaissance?
Certainly, either is feasible. If you look for them, there are signs for both.
The current pandemic could certainly be construed as a sign of the coming Dark Age, as hundreds of thousands die and millions go afraid to touch or get near to one another. The loss of hugs from our lives has already taken an emotional toll on many, not to mention the loss of work and participation in the economy. For many, the coming months alone could be very dark.
Climate change could certainly contribute to a coming Dark Age as well. Whether you agree with scientists that the human activity of industrial consumerism has caused it or you think it’s merely a natural phenomenon and that humans have no responsibility whatsoever, temperatures are breaking records every year and we are experiencing more and more natural disasters as the climate continues to change. If we’re unable to move past the finger pointing portion of the discussion about it and move toward solutions, things could get much darker.
As our political discussion grows more polarized due to the ignorance of our leadership and their adherence to the competitive nature of duality they’ve embraced, an age of darkness could certainly ensue. As it stands, the fervor in political discourse over “conservative” and “liberal” talking points exacerbates divisiveness and absurdity, making progress nearly impossible and a civil war unavoidable. Our political idiocy absolutely shrouds us in darkness.
And, of course, we have honored selfishness as so great a virtue that the majority of the wealth we have created as a society has been absorbed by an extremely small percentage of the population as the majority of us live near the edge of poverty. When that tower falls due to the unsustainability of the debt it depends upon, it will be dark indeed. Financial crashes and economic depression have not historically been directly related to grand celebrations and good times.
And yet, they have still contributed. Because the things about dark ages and renaissances is that one generally follows the other. Just as we often have to walk through the valley before we can climb the mountain, so do we have to endure the dark before we can experience the renaissance.
So, the answer to my question is: both.
The real question is which will you experience more of? The world we know will certainly need to experience both. That is the nature of change. Destruction must precede creation. That’s the way reality works. But where will your purpose guide you to participate?
Any of us can follow the mainstream and contribute to any of the aforementioned problems, or we can realize that each of the problems we face is in need of a solution, and we can be part of that solution. The renaissance we experience may just come from shining light on the dark age.
This article is also posted on Medium.