Wednesday 16 November 2022

A historian is supposed to be someone with a sense of perspective. He/She should be able to survey current events, nod wisely, and say, 'You may think things are bad now but we've actually been here before and we can learn from our past'. I must admit that I find it difficult to adopt such a superior attitude today. Covid? Yes, we've had plagues before and, thank God, we are better able to cope today than we were in 1346, 1665 or 1918. Political mayhem? There have certainly been times when the leading nations of the day have fallen under the sway of incompetents, crooks and maniacs but I cannot readily draw attention to a time when the civilised (?) world has had to cope simultaneously with the likes of Trump, Johnson and Putin. As for ecological disaster, humanity has frequently suffered floods, droughts and earthquakes but never before have we contemplated the possible destruction of our planet brought about by our own industrial 'success'. There's a savage justice about our current immigration crisis. We have made ourselves so commercially superior that it should not surprise us that less fortunate people want to cram themselves onto our tiny island. Truly we live in 'historic times'.


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