The Wide, Wide World and Frightened, Myopic Americans

My neighbor across the street is haunted by unseen dangers that he reads about on the Internet. One of his fears is that an elite group of super-rich people is plotting to establish a one-world government, in which there will be two classes, masters and slaves, and in which people like him and me will be treated like livestock.

He is not alone. A lot of people see the prophesies in the Book of Revelations being fulfilled. They talk about the End Times, the Anti-Christ, Armageddon and so on.

I am not in a position to mock these people. There’s too much going on in the world that I don’t know about. I can only hope they’re mistaken.

Certainly the world is changing. Massively. And our media do a poor job of explaining the changes. China doesn’t get nearly enough press, for example.  We get just snippets of news from that awakened giant. But, at last, the current edition of Newsweek provides a rare glimpse into China’s rapidly changing economy and culture.

It’s worth your time to check it out:

carIt’s an eye opener – for me, anyway. I had no idea that China has such a thriving auto industry (China’s answer to the Rolls Royce is shown at right). Or that the Chinese yuan is so close to replacing the U.S. dollar as the world’s universal currency. Or that China is involved in a major expansion of the Internet.

The Newsweek report is frightening in a way, but it is also reassuring. I don’t see an Armageddon that does not involve China, and I don’t see China being taken over by Islamic extremists any time soon.

I am confident that if Islamic revolutionaries (or Iranian and North Korean despots) go too far in disrupting the world that China is quietly planning to take over, the trouble-makers would be ruthlessly and efficiently eliminated. Chinese rulers don’t have scruples or qualms or any of the other niceties that stay the hands of western democratic leaders.

While China is by far the most important emerging world power, enormous change is also taking place in other Asian countries. Our children and grandchildren will wake up to a world we never imagined.

Meanwhile, as the wider world becomes infinitely more complex and sophisticated, Americans seem to be sliding backward into an increasingly introspective, myopic and primitive culture.

Consider this eerie item, also from Newsweek:

kidExperts are calling it the perfect storm for white supremacist recruitment: the sinking economy, the election of Barack Obama, and the increased attention to immigrants from Mexico and elsewhere. At the same time, extremist groups are trying to enter the mainstream–and they’re having some success. NEWSWEEK reporter Eve Conant and photographer Bruce Gilden visited two groups on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hate group list: the Knights Party, an offshoot of the Ku Klux Klan (during a cosponsored event with the Christian Revival Center), and the Detroit-based National Socialist Movement (NSM), one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in the U.S.

The photo caption introduces an unsettling reportage by reporter Eve Conant and photographer Bruce Gilden, who visited two groups on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hate group list. Take a look for yourself:

I realize I am being unfair, that these pathetic people represent a small fragment of the American population. But I see the rise in bigotry, ignorance and fear as a symptom of a sick society. There is no doubt that “conservatives” of various stripes are gaining ground in the United States, and that they often represent all that is ugly, mean-spirited and inbred in the world’s leading democracy.

With corrupt politicians and pandering media, America’s path forward is poorly illuminated. My fear is that we are heading for a rude awakening in the not too distant future.