The four horsemen of the apocalypse need a rebrand. Instead of war, pestilence, famine and death how about we redefine them as money, religion, nationalism and politics …in my opinion (three crucial words that frame everything and filter everything through individual experience)?
Writing this in the midst of a global pandemic, a growing threat of war around the world, societal collapse and almost irretrievable division (but then has it ever not been thus?) and the overwhelming existential threat posed by the climate emergency, it’s clear (to me) that a new narrative is desperately needed if we are to deliver any kind of future at all for future generations.
The narrative needs to change…and soon. The clock is ticking but procrastination, isolationism, exceptionalism and nothing in the way of vision or wisdom by ‘our’ ‘elected’ ‘leaders’ should make it crystal clear to even the most closed off of minds that we are handing our children and grandchildren a poisoned chalice and a poisoned world run by poisoned minds.
Let’s get back to those outriders, the four horsemen. They are notching off the furlongs at a fair old pace right now and, it seems, racing towards the finish line.
Money, the realm of bankers and billionaires and ultimately every single one of us, is in the box seat leading the charge. The system we have, call it capitalism if you like but that’s a weak word to describe a mindset that is purely and simply ‘survival of the fittest’, is not fit for purpose. It’s running out of road. We saw that in the 2007-9 crash and we are now seeing it in ever more sharper focus with the economic fallout from the covid-19 virus. Debt piled upon debt, mitigated now and then by virulent bouts of austerity, is simply unsustainable. We need to find a much better way of doing things. Money no longer cuts it and that cuts to the heart of all of our attachments, expectations and motivations.
Inequality is a disease that’s as important as climate catastrophe in our existential debate. It’s a disease that gets more entrenched and established with every passing calamity. It’s rarely addressed other than through radical and revolutionary political ideologies that only serve to exacerbate the divide.
Religion is another great divider that causes man to kill man. Dogma, scripture and miracles support minds that are unable to face up to the reality of our situation. They provide solace in the midst of insecurity with supernatural tales. Maybe it’s time we accepted that they are all of their time and place, all the product of mankind seeking to further its own political objectives. They should be private not overt. Religion should exist in the mind alone and not manifest itself in overt displays of tribalism…and war. The moral frameworks provided by all religions are barely different. The common ground is far greater than the ideas that divide. Time to accept that we all have a common sense. We all know how to operate sensibly however you need a common sense world to ensure that.
Nationalism, patriotism, zenophobia and extreme attachment to a flag and a piece of land branded as a nation is easy to understand. Another crutch that, like religion, reinforces division and exceptionalism. It’s a simple concept manifested perfectly in slogans like MAGA and ‘Take Back Control’ foisted on the world by Donald Trump and Brexit respectively to name but two of many. It’s about the idea of protecting your own tribe against external threats despite common sense showing that the biggest external threat is a global one. Abrupt climatic change should necessitate a global tribe. Nations acting against nations, tribes in trenches if you like, never ever ever gets us anywhere other than a self reinforcing feedback loop that inches us ever closer to catastrophe. We have to think far bigger than the borders of our nations to have any chance of survival.
Bringing up the rear is politics. Channelling us down narrow ideological perspectives and reinforcing division with every piece of rhetoric has had its day. It no longer sustains us effectively. The old divisions are constantly maintained on a life support machine by individuals who seek power for their own ends. Sure, there are oases of universal progress and ‘politicians’ that actually act for the global good but they are few and far between. The right left political spectrum, the benchmark for everything we know, will no longer be relevant when basic survival is on the line. We need to hover above that spectrum and recognise that our own personal filters and echo chambers do nothing to advance our collective cause.
These four horsemen between them, adept riders the lot of them, are delivering a race that is both thrilling but also ultimately apocalyptic. Continually reinforcing fear and ego (another story completely) will only ever end badly.
We need new visions imbued with wisdom not an equestrian race to the bottom. The ideas are out there but they involve us all radically changing our perspectives. Very little chance that will happen but, as they say, hope springs eternal. In my opinion.