All the men and women merely players

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Listening to You Tubers talking about the group dynamics in the current political system of the USA, one can’t help thinking that the key players are curiously uninteresting personalities, motivated by instincts that one would find very difficult to describe as lofty. Are these people less qualified to be in the positions they occupy than their predecessors? In some instances this could be the case, but in others they seem to be of a commensurate calibre. So what is different about the times we’re now living in? Is it possible that the rest of the world has seen through the myth making machine of that particular country?

The situation is reminiscent of the reveal towards the end of “The Wizard of Oz”. There’s a song by Stephen Sondheim called “Ah, but underneath” which ends with the lyrics “Sometimes when the wrappings fall, there’s nothing underneath at all”.  Perhaps the rest of the human race is gradually recognising the fact that the intrinsic value of Western civilisation is only rated according to what we choose to perceive and believe.

This is not to suggest that there are not many admirable traits in Western civilisation that are worthy of emulation. The point is that we often choose to overlook the grubbier aspects of that worldview in its diverse range of subcultures. Western civilisation is adept at “accentuating the positive”. Each and every way of life is bound to have an assortment of highs and lows, things to celebrate and other things that should be reformed or changed.

Folks who have in depth knowledge of several cultural worldviews are regarded as sophisticated (rightly so in some cases). They usually find it tricky to communicate effectively with those who are relatively insular, because they function in the world with an overview that is nuanced in a specialised way. Is it possible that the last US President made large parts of the nation’s electorate feel insecure, due to his experience of living in a non-Western culture?

A decisive number of voters chose to opt for a grotesque version of what they perceived as their comfort zone, as a reaction to their insecure feelings. Similar things happened in the UK’s EU Referendum. When the tectonic plates settle down again, will the human race be any wiser regarding the way we value things?