There is more uncertainty and risk than any time in my life. I lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, oil shock of 1973, fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, terrorist attacks of 2001, global financial crisis of 2007-2008, regional wars, revolutions, border conflicts, natural disasters and the chaotic elections of the last few years. Weighing this against what I see today, I believe there is more uncertainty and risk now than any time in my life.
At home in the U.S., we are getting more polarizing bad news than our society can handle. This is compounded by COVID fatigue with all the fear, divisiveness and distrust that goes along with it. Crime is rising and academic achievement is falling. Just when we thought inflation was defeated, it took off and a recession looms. We have a dysfunctional government. Many Americans have lost faith in our leadership and democracy.
Things are not much better in Europe, with a totalitarian leader in Russia, waging war and killing innocent civilians in the Ukraine. In Europe there are many more cracks with Brexit, independence movements, nationalistic disagreements, populist uprisings, energy disruptions and money problems.
In Asia, we have a dictator for life in China arming for a global war to enslave the people of Taiwan. Next door is a North Korean leader starving his people and playing nuclear blackmail for leverage to extort the West. These issues are now causing a remilitarizing in Japan while other Asian countries pursue self-sufficiency. It seems that human trafficking and abuse is getting worse than ever.
There are a lot of global trends that do not look good. There are more desperate fleeing refugees with no place to go. We see greater religious warfare with innocent people being killed in the name of God. The world’s instabilities have caused a setback for globalization with diminishing of the benefits of trade and reduced availability of goods. Rather than countries and people becoming more peaceful and integrated, there is more polarization, tribe mentality and ethnic aggression fueled by more and dangerous weapons.
Our society is straining, technology moving faster than people can handle and thereby paralyzing and overwhelming the ability to respond. The population around the world is aging fast and we are facing a situation with more takers with expensive medical bills and fewer payers to cover the costs. Now, there are greater capabilities to make more powerful synthetic opiates that destroy too many lives.
The situation is bleak with great risk and uncertainty, but it is still not hopeless. This is a not a call to panic but a wakeup call. It is the time to carefully think about these problems. We must seek solutions and find people to make the world better, not worse. We need to act to improve the situation, or it will get worse with more uncertainty, risk and problems.
G A Ben Binninger