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Jordan Heron - The Vanity Card Series

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For a self-proclaimed history buff, most of whose hobbies revolve around centuries and cultures that I don't live in, I don't think I know a whole lot about history. Or rather, about how history works.

I've often wondered, for example, the fall of the Roman Empire - did they know it was falling? Was it a long a drawn out process, where they struggled to save themselves and their way of life? Or did, one day, all the Romans wake up and say "Well, that's that then. What next?"

I used to think my life was personally interesting, in terms of the experiences I've had. Ok, I still think it's interesting, in relative terms. But the course of my life, the larger picture of my lifespan in Canada, is not at all interesting at all. Which could be seen as very good.

I've never woken up and wondered what country I lived in and under what type of rule. There's never been a bloody coup that changed my nation. The closest I've come is going to bed before the polls closed on election day, and having to check the newspaper to see who the Prime Minister was. But it didn't really affect my day. "Doesn't change the beer in my mug," as Stephanie would say.

I've never woken up and wondered if the money in my pocket was any good, or whether there would be any food at the grocery store for me to buy with it. I've never had the army storm into my house and arrest me because they were arresting all of the people who looked like me. I've never had my government topple to be replaced with anarchy. (Unless you count the NDP win in Ontario some 15 years ago...) On the rare occassions I've needed social assistance, the government - while perhaps mired in debt and deficit - never told me they didn't have the money I needed.

Now I look at Greece, where you have two opposite extremes. People at "the bottom" protesting against austerity moves, because they feel entitled to (or a genuine need for) assistance that their government simply can't afford. And at "the top", world leaders trying to put together a financial package to save Greece that nearly every single economist in the world says can not possibly work in the long term.

Now I look at the USA, which was headline news last week, because they had to agree (and couldn't) to raise their debt ceiling. Without this change, the USA defaults on its debt, and the entire economny of the world could collapse. At least, that's what the headline said last week. There has been no agreement - but there are no headlines on it this week. Did the crisis all of a sudden go away? Or are we just ignoring it? Or is it the end of western civilization at hand, and we haven't noticed?

I don't spend a lot of time worrying - life (and my time, especially) are way too valuable for that. But stray thoughts come in sometimes:
Today, I wonder if life will suddenly, drastically, take a turn. And with all the stability my personal half century has seen, I wonder if I'll be able to cope with it...

20 July 2011

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