What is to be done?
Ascribe it to what you will: Pluto in Capricorn, the machinations of a globalist elite, the Book of Revelation—there can be no doubt that we live in strange times indeed.
And yet, the world has been here before.
A few weeks ago, growing ever more disheartened by the news, I picked up a book instead. That book happened to be Tacitus’s Histories. I loved Classical Civilisation at school but it wasn’t taught terribly well, so I was surprised to discover that the year AD 69 was known within the Roman Empire as ‘The Year of the Four Emperors’ (Galba, Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian, for those interested).
And suddenly I realised the events of this year aren’t the apocalypse, that dread event spoken of by the prophet Isaiah or within the Book of Revelation. Rather, 2020 is witnessing an apocalypse—the passing away of one world order so that a new one may emerge. In effect we are in the winter months of what was, shortly to emerge into the spring of what will be.
This has all sorts of implications, but first and foremost, it means there is nothing to be done.
People are very obsessed right now with this idea of busying themselves putting the world back to rights. Podcasters and intellectuals of all strains and bent are, almost as one, looking at the disintegration of our society’s structure and asking: what should we do?
But if this is merely cyclical, the question is akin to a farmer staring at a bare field in winter and asking himself: how can I force the wheat to grow?
He can’t drag the sun high into the sky, he can’t make the clouds give up their rains, and he certainly can’t assemble the stalks of wheat cell by cell. All he can do plough the field, scatter his seeds, and wait for nature to do the rest.
And so must we. There is work that can usefully be done, but it is not of the holding-back-the-tide variety.
We can plough, and we can sow. We can gather knowledge and wisdom, and we can study it.
We can shepherd the best of our civilisation through this trying time, and we can ensure that whatever comes next is seeded with it, that it may flourish once more.
The Wisdom of Brian
It looks increasingly as though President Trump will not hang on to the White House. I wanted him to win, but in some ways his presence in the Oval Office was exacerbating the nation’s problems. He gave the left a figure-head to rail against, allowing them to perpetuate their victimhood narrative. Now when they burn down Portland it will be obvious to all—even the CNN news anchors—that they have no legitimate cause
One of my favourite films is The Life Of Brian. The great irony of that film is that it was railed against by the church and banned in some places, yet does
a better job of conveying Jesus’ message than the church does. In particular, there is a scene in which the Christ-figure, Brian, tells the people: “You don’t need to follow me. You don’t need to follow anyone! You’ve got to think for yourselves!”
This is the challenge of our times. It is not for a figurehead to pull the levers of power and right the world for us. We are not children, to be mollycoddled and have everything made nice on our behalf. We are adults, and we must shoulder that burden ourselves.
In that way, we can become more than mere men and women. We can become the heroes our nations so badly need.
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