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Essay of the Week: While Belshazzar Drinks by Joel D. Hirst

“Mene, mene, tekel, parsin.”

For seventy years our American world order has sought to manage the world’s problems; and we have been weighed and found wanting. Not for lack of caring – for we are a generous people, as our giving shows. But for the lack of humility of our own elites and their understanding of humanity. The end of our world order will not be drawn in the shape of an apocalyptic mushroom cloud, which we all expected. The Medes and Persians are not razing our walls. There will be no theatrical return to the caves, to the farms. No, our end of history will be less dramatic and somehow more pathetic. Wars, rumors of wars. 60,000,000 refugees on the move, and growing every day fleeing barrel bombs in Syria and rape in the Congo. To say nothing of the migrants, looking for a better future. Incompetent government; schools which no longer instruct; universities no longer seeking right; justice unconcerned with the just; elections that no longer address that age-old problem of consent; rights which are no longer the bedrock of our societies, replaced in a bait-and-switch with “social justice”, a convention which seeks excuses and victims instead of equality and truth. ….

[snip]

The people of Mali: of Nigeria and Niger and Venezuela and Haiti and most of the population of Pakistan and Bangladesh. “But they doubled their income, they have left extreme poverty,” the World Bank announces in a self-congratulatory cocktail party on “G” street. But what are they celebrating? Extreme poverty is two dollars a day, and now they have four? What about the 60,000 new homeless in Los Angeles, squatting beside the mega-mansions as people do in Mumbai?

[snip]

Our green revolution; mono-cropping and genetically modified plants and the fresh burn of over-fertilized lands bringing us one blight away from famine as we drain the prehistoric aquifers. Oh, for sure we can now hurl insults at somebody half a world away, and we can go online at any moment to look up who the French King was during the revolution or how to make Passion Fruit Sorbet, but we are all fat because the only affordable food is processed, sugared and sold in cans or little plastic packages. Debt. $200,000,000,000,000 in fact, $28,000 for every man, woman and child on the earth – even the newly escaped from poverty, making their $4 a day. Truth be told it’s a Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme of global, catastrophic, biblical proportions as soon as somebody calls somebody else’s bluff.

MORE, MUCH MORE. It’s depressing but it has the value of being true.

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  • Howard Nelson June 21, 2018, 7:20 AM

    We’re like that guy in that story, plunging from the top floor toward the pavement below, as he passes the 40th floor, comments, “So far, so good.”
    Hirst’s reading of us all is the good/bad news alerting to the urgent need to avert the coming crash. Good if we act adequately to live, bad if we sag in apathy.
    Case studies aplenty in countries of the West, now
    at the 30th floor.

  • Laurel Yanny in the blue/brown dress June 21, 2018, 1:32 PM

    Q) What do you get when you feed a million starving Africans?
    A) Ten million starving Africans, etc, etc.
    Q) What happens when Europe cannot feed all their “migrants”?