Who says Donald Trump isn’t visionary. He said that the world is a mess, and proceeded to make sure that it is. Not that the world needed his help. Many countries and entities were well positioned to ensure messes for themselves – and others – before Donald T’s arrival on the scene.
However, just like Hurricane Irma was perceived as an opportunity among thieves, Hurricane Donald was perceived as an opportunity among disruptive political elements all over the world.
I decided to take a moment to binge on World Mess Scenarios. I strongly recommend a mess binge to everyone. Anything that actually happens will feel like a lesser evil once you have taken a moment to overindulge in mess scenarios.
The obvious World Mess Scenario 1 is nature turning against us. Hurricane Irma was a forcible reminder of this – on a personal level too. She swept past several high rises, houses, and hotels that we have called home in Florida; both on the East and West Coast.
With news of one natural disaster after another, it’s easy to subscribe to the thought that climate change may well be the reason behind the increased intensity of natural disasters; be it droughts in Africa, wetter Asian monsoons, or stronger hurricanes. NASA’s Earth Observatory website still deems this possible too. For how long? Many politicians are doing their best to dilute the message.
It’s a fine line we are walking. Our life is based on probable truths and alternative facts most of the time.
I am not referring to the outright lies that some serve as alternative facts, and most of us recognise as fake. I am referring to facts that can be reasonably argued to prove one thing, while other facts seem to prove just the opposite. Not to mention beliefs that can neither be proved or disproved.
Most of us struggle to sort fact from fiction, to find the most probable truth. Others are happy to subscribe to any fact that fits their vision of the truth, be it probable or totally fictional.
There is much talk of shared experiences. We may think we share the same experience with others, yet we probably don’t. People tend to perceive things so differently that two people seldom describe a joint experience alike. As always, there are exceptions. Natural disasters bring us together in uncommon ways – for a moment. A storm is a storm, a flood is a flood, the threat to life as you know it is the same for everyone.
In the midst of such a disaster survivors have little time to ponder why there was a storm to begin with. Once the immediate danger is over, they will all go their separate ways again. Blaiming man, God, fate, or whoever/whatever they choose to.
This brings me to World Mess Scenario 2. It’s an obvious one too, the one caused by politics, religious beliefs and opportunism.
When the president of the country that used to be considered the “leader of the Western world” acts like a raging preteen, the probability of hell breaking loose in all kinds of corners of the world grows significantly.
Unpredictability might earn you an extra million in real estate negotiations, but it may just as well earn you an extra war in world politics.
In addition to unpredictable world leaders, we are faced with terrorists and opportunists. Both feed on people’s fears, and the latter on their selfishness, be it the right-wing nationalism that is on the rise in most EU-countries, or the cries for independence in self-sufficient, affluent regions such as Catalonia in Spain.
For me a less polarised and more diverse society is a goal worth fighting for; one that will make the world safer and better. For others it isn’t. None of us are free from fear or self-interest.
Which brings me to World Mess Scenario 3. It’s the disruption caused by, or rather aided and abetted by, technology.
Our probable truths used to be local, rooted in our own culture. Now they are international, often with a background in cultures that differ from the ones we are familiar with. In addition to different points of view, we are served alternative facts (real ones and fake ones).
We are becoming illiterate again. We may read perfectly, but there is so much information out there that it becomes increasingly difficult to sort out the real from the fiction. We know enough to know that few, if any, have knowledge of the “real truth” in any given situation. Water still boils at the same degree, a friend commented. Yes and no, depends on whether we are talking Celsius or Fahrenheit.
The more complex the world becomes, the more probable it becomes that few, if any, know – much less understand – what is really happening. Sorting out the probable truths and probable facts from all the information around us is time-consuming. It’s all too tempting to just focus on the fragments you think you understand, or give up altogether.
There has always been an elite: a group of people in each country that has had better access to information than others. They gathered information, tried to sort out facts from fiction, and sometimes fabricated more fake news than anyone out there today. The world was flat, they said – and for a long time this fiction was perceived as fact.
Fortunately enough people believed in a less polarised and more diverse world, and in the benefits of education and literacy. Democracies emerged and grew stronger, country by country.
But these same countries are now all part of a worldwide scene. Finances, services, products, people, ideas – we are past stopping their flow; from country to country, all around the world, at increasing speed. Our information, our wealth, our life is all out there. Much of it in a virtual cloud.
We are lost in technological advances. Instead of faces and responses to the questions we ask, we all too often get robots with answers to the most probable questions we might ask; not to mention solutions to the most probable problems we might have, rather than the ones we actually have.
No wonder some people just want to shut down. To create a cocoon of their own, with solutions based on wishful thinking. Nobody else seems to have a clue, so why not bet on Hurricane Donald for example.
Maybe it’s just that simple. Maybe there will always be a threat that makes us act based on self-interest and gut feeling alone, when we don’t know what else to do.
We ourselves are the driving force behind all my mess scenarios – probably.
The rune stone from the middle of the 11th century in my feature image says it all: “Anund had the stone erected in the memory of himself in his lifetime”. Anund put himself first, and his message lives on.
But there have always been survivors whatever messes personkind (my contribution to the new Finnish gender-free language approach) has created. We have moved forward. The world is a better place for more and more people.
So Donald T, I have to disagree with you again. It may be a mess, but we can probably sort it out, unless you mess it up even more.
And even if you do, the world will still go on. I am told the silverfish were here before us, and will be here after us – probably .