This article was first published in New View magazine Issue 99 April-June 2021
“We’re living in a world where things just happen, don’t they?” These were words I overheard from a conversation between two women in our local park recently. They were talking about the so-called ‘COVID crisis’ and expressed the view that events these days just seem to occur ‘out of the blue’ as it were, out of nowhere. 9/11, the crash of 2008, the so-called Arab Spring of 2011, the emergence of ISIS in 2014, Donald Trump, the ‘COVID crisis’ itself, the recent military coup in Myanmar, to cite just a few events in recent times – for many people who depend on the mainstream media for their view of what’s going on in the world all these events “just happen”; they seemed to come out of nowhere. People feel they can’t make sense of them, especially those that happen far away, and rightly so, because the mainstream media rarely put them in their proper context to help people understand the deeper issues. Of course, they try to give what is called “background” to an event like the coup in Myanmar; there is the occasional documentary, long article or panel discussion, but after a week or so, or perhaps only a few days, the news cycle, always hungry for new stories, moves on and explanations remain more or less superficial.
After I overheard that woman in the park, I walked on and only a moment later, I overheard a man asking someone on his mobile phone: “are you where you need to be going?” A pregnant question. Are we where we need to be going? It assumes we know where we need to be going, and let’s face it, many of us don’t, individually. From day to day, or over a period of weeks, months or a year perhaps we do. But over the course of our lives? By which I mean: do we know around, say, the age of 21, where we need to be going in our lives? Why are we here? What is the purpose of our general human and individual existence? Has our upbringing, our education up to that point, helped us to gain some clarity on such questions? The same applies to a nation and to humanity as a whole in the 21st century.