OPINION: When the chips are down
Ralph K. Ginorio
| July 11, 2022 1:00 AM
When the chips are down, who will we be? Are the skeptics correct that any civilized people are only a few missed meals away from anarchy? Are we really just less-hairy killer apes waiting for the next chance to unleash the beast within?
I sincerely hope that the next six paragraphs are totally nonsensical. However, some people whom I deeply respect are predicting a “Fall of the Roman Empire” level crisis between now and Christmas. Food shortages could bring famine and will certainly bring short rationing to every one of us, if these worthies are correct.
Famine like we have not seen outside of the Horn of Africa since Columbus’ discovery would grip much of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In this Third World, unprecedentedly dense populations already teeter on the razor’s edge of survival.
Eurasia, the Middle East, and the Pacific all are threatened by brittle and desperate Dictatorships in Beijing, Moscow, Tehran, and elsewhere. They see Western weakness as their opportunity to strike and then dominate the future. War, combined with Famine and Disease, could bring mega death without much warning in an age of nuclear weapons.
All of this might happen at a present moment when the world economic system and our ubiquitous electrical power grid have made us inextricably interdependent. Today, like literally never before in the history of human beings, we are subject to events half-a-world away over which we have little influence. Two years of COVID have already brought the US and global economy to the brink of collapse.
As all of this doom gathers, many leaders within Western Civilization seem to be using the potential of such shattering crises to re-establish Feudalism. For example, the World Economic Forum has predicted that desperate commoners will soon abandon their freedom in return for subsistence. They argue that the environment will benefit when only the elites maintain a modern American standard of living.
I hope that this is all nonsense. I pray that humanity will not needlessly lurch towards a new Dark Age, or even worse, and extinction-level event.
I actually believe in freedom. I do not share the fundamental skepticism about human nature that brought the West from the optimism of the American Revolution to the pessimism of the Russian Revolution.
My interpretation of global history says that our species thrives best when common people are educated to be citizens as well as are empowered to be creative. I have faith that, if human beings refuse to behave like animals, the answer to every potential problem is freedom, liberty, and the widest possible personal autonomy.
Does that mean that I consider myself to be above the gut-liquefying fear of such dark prophecies about the next calendar year?! Absolutely not! I fear the end of life as we know it in the United States, and the end of life, period, throughout much of the rest of the world.
Mostly, I fear that in extremis I will allow my desperation to unman me. I am afraid that my desire to survive will cause me to accept compromises that I would never accept in normal times. I fear that, in a moment of pain and panic, I will accept slavery so long as I and mine might live one more day.
I also fear my own inner demons. Every friend and loved one who is a survivalist has a glint of fey hope in their eyes that they will get the chance to face an ultimate test of their mettle. While I admire their courage and envy their readiness, I wonder how they will face surviving amidst desperate and dying neighbors.
Is survival to be bought, as it was by the citizens of Leningrad in World War II, by forgoing all human decency and consuming other people? Are we only going to see the other side of any such crisis by being brutal beyond our capacity to imagine? Is a survival that costs us our humanity worth having?
I hope most earnestly for an ongoing peace and prosperity that will preserve human life and freedom by preserving the middle class and our Constitution.
But, if desperate times do befall us, I pray to have the grace to live, and possibly die, as a man of the Judeo-Christian West. I hope that such times will bring out the best in me as a Christian, as an American, and as a human being.
The only way through dark times, whether they were the Great Depression and World War II, or the Black Death and the Mongol conquests, is for some people, somewhere, to find a way to survive with their honor and souls intact.
Without people like these, what comes after a world crisis can be far worse than anything that preceded it. With people like this, people like who I hope to be when I am brought under duress, the crisis can prepare the way for a new renaissance of culture; even possibly a golden age.
In Maine and then Idaho, Ralph K. Ginorio has taught the history of Western civilization to high school students for nearly a quarter century. He is an “out-of-the-closet” Conservative educator with experience in special education, public schools, and charter schools, grades 6-12. He has lived in Coeur d’Alene since 2014. Email: email@example.com