Sign O The Times

So, in ’87, Prince did his town-cryer hear ye and gave a rundown of the headlines of the day: AIDS, drug use, proliferation of gangs, poverty, space race, natural disasters.  It caught the zeitgeist.  How would it go today?

In France asylum seekers are penned up in inhumane conditions as Europe and the western world tries to wash its hands of the maelstrom they’ve help create in the Middle East.

At home there are eleven year old boys and their reasoned response…

Climate change is here creating diaspora and conflict as man tries to wring the last drop of natural resource from the soil.

Poverty is redefined by governments with the intention of rendering the poor rich.

We’re not done with creating more ways in which to hallucinate – we’re not beyond using materials that simply hurt others hooked…a profit’s a profit, eh?

A report in The Independent notes that scientists are considering whether they have seen artificial bodies in orbit around a planet in another galaxy.  Wouldn’t you know it?  The moment we start to really identify the possibilities of other life in the universe is the exact time that we continue to demonstrate we are nothing but an embarrassment to the place.

There was an episode of The Twilight Zone – I believe it was the Twilight Zone…one of the modern incarnations of the show – in which alien life-forms turn up, express their disappointment at the progress on earth and decree that they’ll be back in 24 hours to destroy the planet unless we can sort ourselves out.  The world comes together – plucky humans that we are – and pull an all-nighter at the UN.  Agreement is reached and peace reigns.  The aliens return to see what we’ve done and – here comes the twist (spoiler alert!) – they are outraged at the peace deal, demanding more ruthlessness in the way in which we conduct war – so they blow the place up.  It’s as though governments around the world have taken this as some sort of blueprint and are conducting both domestic and foreign policies accordingly.

The blank looks that Osborne, English (That’s Bill…the Kiwi Osborne) et al give as the families they govern drop below the poverty line are baffling.  Loopholes for mates and chums to exploit are maintained or widened and austerity affects those whose belts are already tight.  I know that it’s a heartstrings moment and areas of the media are exploiting this for all it’s worth but, watching this clip of a Conservative voter taking her party to task is moving.  Unfortunately, the manner in which the opposition parties are operating leaves you throwing your hands up in despair – Jeremy Corbyn is surrounded by people too scared to be an actual Labour MP and stand up for the working class.  The SNP are still running around the Houses of Parliament playing pranks and feigning outrage at the practices of the place, getting ready to further unsettle the union with a secondary drive for Scottish independence.  The Labour Party in New Zealand cannot get to grips with the laissez faire policies of this National Government and are fiddling – well twiddling their fingers – whilst the country starts to burn.  America looks ready for a beautiful bout of infighting as the race to be President overrides the need for a strong American presence in the world – and by strong I mean level-headed, ambitious and driven (like the America of old) rather than the bully-boy and hawk-house production line we’ve seen over the past two decades.  And then there’s the Middle East…oh boy.  On the one hand we have a nation state that beheads people on a weekly basis – there for all to see – and then there’s terrorist group who have taken over most of Iraq and Syria.  Beheading someone and then hanging his body out as a warning… that’s overkill.  And our reaction – well, the story about the driver who decided to try and put out a fire by driving his vehicle over it (a vehicle containing guns and ammunition) is, as is pointed out here, a wonderful metaphor for US/Western foreign policy in the region.

Let’s say the scientists at Penn State are right.  Let’s say there are creatures like us who have launched objects into orbit around their planet.  How could we look them in the eye if they were ever to come and visit?  How could we truly lay out the red carpet, deploy the fanfarer’s brigade and usher them into a banquet of earthly delights knowing that our planet is run in this way?

Prince’s song ends with a rush to parenthood before the apocalypse consumes us all.  It is a sad image – the need to fall in love, to marry, to have a child – to try and have some sort of life before it is engulfed in the horrors the narrator knows is coming.  Why can’t this desire to love, to live and to further life be supported by governments that rule for the majority?  Is it too hopelessly naive for me to write like this?  To know that the illusion of choice we have when it comes to election time is underwritten by a pathway already decided upon by corporates, lobbyists and the owners of 50% of the world’s wealth?  Barack Obama came to power with “yes we can”.  He hasn’t.  He hasn’t been allowed to.  Soon there is a chance that the opposition will be in power and they’ll be running on a “I don’t give a f**k whether you think you can or not…I’ll decide that, ok?”  Orwell wrote, in Nineteen Eight-Four that the future could be imagined by thinking of a “boot stamping on a human face – forever”.  I can’t argue with this.  It certainly feels like we’re getting a kicking…but I also have another image for you.  If you want to imagine the future, imagine your pocket being picked, imagine your face pressed against a barrier, imagine your coins shrinking in size – forever.

Oh Yeah!

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