It Seems We Haven’t Learned This Lesson Yet . . .


There’s a storm coming. Are we willing to do what it takes to get through it?

I recently had an opportunity to see the first two instalments of the “Hunger Games”. I must say that I was impressed with the writing and the story telling but what chilled me most was the similarity to what is actually happening in our time–right now. We are not that far removed from what is portrayed on the screen.

I wouldn’t call me an alarmist or anything but one of the first thoughts that I experienced watching these movies was how we may not have learned as much from history as we thought. Aren’t we supposed to learn from history and then use those insights to prevent our world from imploding? We are not supposed to repeat the mistakes of those who have gone before us. Yet here we are. Like it or not–see it or not–the truth seems to indicate that we are teetering on the brink of extinction as a species. The evidence is clearly evident for all to see. Environments are failing, diseases long since conquered are returning with a vengeance, our economy is more about smoke and mirrors and we are fiddling while Rome burns. Personally I am very concerned for my children and their children. I fear that we are about to leave them with the same mess that faced Rome all those centuries ago. The similarities between the two empires are staggering.

Here are some quick peeks at what could be coming. Unless a radical change in perspective is undertaken, we will find it difficult to avoid a similar fate to that of other great empires. We need to change how we think about what we are doing and how and why we are doing it. The current system could work but only if it were run with the best interests of all and not just a few in mind. This is not a slam at capitalism. Entrepreneurs need to be rewarded for their talents, skills and risk taking. No question there. But entrepreneurs don’t work in a vacuum. They still have to rely on ‘ordinary’ folks to make the overall dream come true. Currently, how are those ‘ordinary’ folks benefiting and to what degree? Perhaps sharing a bit more of the proverbial ‘sandbox’ with the other kids would be a good place to start.

In no particular order: (the following points are the basis for the fall of Rome)
1. The most influential system, that is the one with the greatest impact and the one that would be the most difficult to change, would be the political system. It is now almost completely controlled by wealth. By money.This money buys lobbyists, Super Pacs and leverage. They have influence. The very rich have removed themselves from the immediate limelight but pull the strings and push the buttons from the shadows. Citizens of ordinary means NEVER get elected to the upper political strata. Wealth and influence continue to amass for a few who are protected almost entirely now.

In the U.S. consider the near collapse of the government because of the political in-fighting over medicare. The wealthy did not want to give up that much power–financial power–to appease the masses. I could never figure out why 42 million people who now have medical coverage for their families was a bad thing? How is it OK that the wealthy can have as much medical care for anything at any cost and at any time but if a working stiff has a child who needs some serious surgery of some kind he really has to choose between having his child not have the surgery or going bankrupt? He could easily lose his home? I don’t begrudge the wealthy their medical care just make sure that the other citizens can have some similar care for their families as well and at a cost they can actually afford.

2. Our families are deteriorating. I have written about this for a time now. Much of what I thought would happen is beginning to happen. That doesn’t make me a seer of any kind. I just paid attention to what was/is going on. Again, it is evident for all to see if you look. Our families for the most part, and there are always those exceptions that create hope, are falling apart. We have more single parents than at any time prior. Most of these (80%) are single moms. Fathers are walking away from their homes and families because they are disillusioned, confused, angry, hopeless and so on. The rules are changing so fast that men can’t keep up with the rate of change. We have no idea any more of what is expected of us. But rather than be included in the solution-finding discussions men are castigated and jailed especially by those groups who do not have the best interest of all at heart. There is far too much anger and venom flying around to be helpful.

3. Our moral and value systems have been rendered virtually non-existent. If we look at advertising, the entertainment business or at what passes for entertainment now and the hedonistic life styles that many live we see that most of our standards have deteriorated dramatically. We have decided that recreational pot smoking is OK. Wow–that really is stupid. Remember our kids are watching all of this. What we are doing now will become their ‘normal.’ We are their teachers and how they treat each other is what they have learned by watching adults. What we are seeing from our children right now is exactly what you would expect. Then we wonder why our children struggle with rules, order, entitlement, respect for themselves and others. Why are suicide rates so high among our children? Is it any wonder that, with fathers gone from the household, mom doing double duty just to keep a roof over the family and food on the table that there is a dramatic lack of respect especially when we look at how men and women are portrayed as sexual objects. Rome objectified their women too. In today’s world this objectification is often of their own (men and women both) choosing or with parental consent. The lure of riches beyond belief can be a very powerful inducement I guess. But what are we really selling or selling off?

4. Speaking of that, we have sold out to the big health care companies and the pharmaceutical industry. We have allowed the creation of a two-tier system of health care. We have finally fixed a cost value on a human life and yet no one seems to notice or care about that. There is a set of ‘rules’ for how the rich will be treated and the type of care that the less fortunate can expect.

5. The same holds true for the legal profession. If you have enough money you can get away with murder–literally. There are definitely different consequences for similar behaviours if you are graced by money and/or are well connected. It’s a two tier system as well.

6. There is a gross amount of financial resources spent on waging war to protect the interests of the wealthy on other peoples land. When war is waged it means that the few industries set up to provide war machinery and supplies get ready to drive the dollars to the bank three times a day. What would happen if there was war declared and NO ONE-NO ONE showed up? They might be forced to sit around a table and talk about what to do next. The world cannot afford what it costs to wage war at least not at today’s prices. Most of the time someone (usually the folks with no political power) have to sacrifice something to pay the freight for war. However, sacrifice enough and people finally get peeved and decide, perhaps, that it’s time they were heard. Anarchy takes hold and suddenly the laws of the land become non-productive. Just witness the number of militia groups that continue to grow and flourish. You can follow that anger and violence right down to the street levels in any of our cities. They used to call this revolution or civil disobedience. Now its called ‘our rights’and political correctness. Now you have a war within the boundaries of your own country. What does that cost in dollars and cents not to mention in terms of patriotism and unity.

7. The educational system has been re-claimed by wealthy folks. Sure there are bursaries and scholarships and student loans available but higher education should be available to all. That’s how civilizations secure their futures. Well educated masses. It is in the creativity that national pride and ingenuity are produced and maintained. Currently higher education is basically for the rich. It will become or is becoming the unseen line in the sand. The haves and the have nots. That line in the sand will determine our fate as a species. I wonder how many kids could go to a good school for the cost of two battleships and a squadron of brand new fighter jets designed to kill as many folks in a foreign country as possible.

Of course we, meaning this current generation wont experience much of what is possibly to come but our children are likely to see some of this taking place and their children will for sure. Should we be concerned about something that seems so far away? Only if we want to affect a change in the quality of their lives. There is still time to alter the course we are charting but it needs immediate attention and to do that we really need to take off our blinders.

Anyways, that’s how I see it–all the best, Jim

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Author Jim Cloughley's 
Brand New Blueprint For Learning