The "tipping point of despair"

This is too good. Here’s just an excerpt, but you’ll resonate with the whole thing:

There is an argument to be made that the world is no more in crisis now than it has been at any other point in history, give or take a world war, and that the only reason we are freaking out is that the countries involved are western. No one reported much existential angst during Rwanda. When Israel bombed Beirut airport I was aware that part of the reason I got end-of-the-world shivers was that, unlike the airports in Baghdad or Mogadishu, I have been to Beirut’s and it is just like Luton. When two countries with well-decorated departure halls and branches of Starbucks start fighting, you pay more attention than when Ethiopia marches into Somalia, as it did in July without anyone paying much attention. (The Ethiopian troops entered at the invitation of Somalia’s secular interim government, to help fight the Islamic militia, who promptly threatened them with another jihad).

These are strange times and the fact that everyone claimed to see them coming in 2004 hasn’t made them any easier to deal with. It occasionally feels as if magnetic flip is taking place, the process of polar reversal that happens every 300 millennia or so when north becomes south and south north, and birds fly into buildings and people with pacemakers keel over in the street. What can you do? For the past 10 years I have taken William L Shirer’s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich on holiday and for the first time, last week, I actually thought about reading it. (I didn’t, obviously.) As multiple wars on multiple fronts drag on, you try to initiate a cycle of response that reminds you there are things to be grateful for; the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo going off without violence, for example, and Mel Gibson self-detonating. You reassure yourself that, as in all cycles of history, this one will come to an end, too. Then you remember that the man in charge of writing the ending is George Bush, and you have to start again.

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