Bird’s Eye View: It’s the end of the world as we know it, oddly, I don’t feel so fine

Lauren Bird - Bird's eye view (Tom Bateman/AQ)

The Americans can’t make a decision about their economy. The Greeks are sinking into the Aegean, taking the Euro with them, and Germany won’t toss them a lifesaver. The Middle East seems to be going up in flames. Canada is building more prisons to hold fewer criminals, and climate change, it turns out, is real.

Add a couple of natural disasters here and there, and the front pages of newspapers are looking like the Book of Revelation—or at least, the Book of Job.

Tucked away safe in little New Brunswick, we’ve managed to let these shadows pass no closer than a nightly newscast. But how long do we have before we feel the heat too?

The West is no longer the best. Let’s face it: the salad days are over. We’ve had our fun and met a fate similar to Job’s of the Old Testament. We’ve followed the word of our elders, but we’re graduating into a world where everything that can go wrong, seemingly is.

Loved and blessed by God, Job faced hard times when his 10 children were killed in a freak accident, and he lost his health, his wealth and everything else. Covered in blisters and boils, he put on sackcloth and ashes and praised God.

Are we doomed to Job’s fate? Is there any hope for the world or should we invest in some sackcloth and suit up for Armageddon?

Looking for answers, I went to the appropriate man on campus, a man with the serene grin of a pundit. His office in Holy Cross is lined with books. A lamp provides illumination, adding to the feeling of calm.

“We’re definitely going through a period of considerable change right now, and changes are coming fast and furious,” said professor Shaun Narine.
“The problem is that there’s a lot of this eruption happening, but the solutions to the problems are seemingly much harder to find.”

Not quite the answer I was hoping for. Is hope lost too?

“We’re left with this sense of uncertainty about the future. There are many things happening that are rocking the boat and at the same time we don’t know where it’s all going…Human beings don’t handle uncertainty very well. We want to have at least some kind of sense of where we think we’re going with the future.”

Though it seems we’re all headed to Hell in a hand basket, Narine did point out that the way people treat each other has generally improved over the years. Racism, sexism, homophobia and cruelty to animals are now socially unacceptable in much of the world.

So maybe, we can be redeemed. Maybe, like Job, if we just wait it out, stay true to our moral compass, we’ll wake up one day and find the perfect world order completely restored. The West will right itself; students will graduate into the middle class; and Community will be renewed for more episodes.

Besides, isn’t the world always about to end? Aren’t we always on the eve of destruction with Armageddon right around the corner? Think back to the Cold War, the Great Depression, the Black Death or as Mick Jagger sang in Sympathy for the Devil: when the Blitzkrieg raged and the bodies stank —things weren’t so great then either.

At the end of the Book of Job, the long suffering protagonist gets a new family and new wealth, though it’s not the same. Maybe we just need to get more comfortable with change. After all, the times, they are a changin’.

And, on the bright side, we’re all not covered in blisters and boils – well, at least until global warming kicks in.


  1. Greece entered the EU well knowing that it was in debt. It is far from true that Germany did not toss a lifesaver. Yet, of course, the general public only sees Germany as the trouble maker. For what? Putting sanctions on them? Pointing out their problems?

    If you allow your people to (for example) collect pension money from their long deceased family members, of course your financial system is sooner or later going downhill.

    The country has to rebuilt its financial system and that hurts its people. But it is very tiring to hear that another country is at fault for their debt. I am not surprised… after all, it's always easier to blame someone else rather then yourself.

    As for getting comfortable with change – that's usually the first sign of one empire going down and another, a keener one, rising. You can read that up in every history book. It's extremely lazy, and its what I expect everyone to do.

    In this, we are fairly close to Job: We rely on good faith.

    We just won't get it all back!


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