Living in Betty’s Bay for the moment, living in bliss for a while, where the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans overlap, and where at this time of the year, whales, sea otters, porcupines, baboons, leopards, francolins, guinea fowls, mongoose and a myriad of birds share sea and land with us, there is not much of an edge right now for history to be considered, at least the end of it, one would think.
But then, apart from living in bliss (whatever that might be, but it sounds good and it is, of course, true), we do read a lot, watch films every day, tune into Aljazeera and are on the edge of the continent, connected to the world.
Overberg landscape in winter between Villiersdorp and Caledon.
“The End of History” – Francis Fukuyama’s essayistic thesis* that with the fall of the Berlin Wall our ideological evolution had come to an end and would herald a new age of liberal democracies and free flow of market capitalism around the globe.
This thesis according to Ralf Dahrendorf and others gave Fukuyama his 15 minutes of fame (Andy Warhol). Yet, there is still something to be said about the end of history. History as we know it, is punctuated by wars with a beginning and an end. The borders have become diffuse. There are no clear beginnings or ends. Is there a civil war in Syria? Drone attacks – do they qualify as instruments of war? Who is waging what kind of war against who? Borders within are diffuse as in Egypt right now. There is a great confusion in the world about where we are going – ecologically, economically, ideologically – there are just too many battle lines. We are beleaguered and fighting on many unseen and formerly unheard of fronts: you thought banks and their CEOs were looking after your money and the common good? You thought rhinos, elephants, leopards, seals, whales or unborn babies were safe in environments best suited to them? Killing people with nerve gas is not okay, but killing them with bombs and grenades is? You thought the scramble for Africa was over? The exploitation of her natural resources has just begun! And the Pope resigns. Somehow it seems, mankind has lost the plot.
Maybe not. Maybe we are just overextended or neurotic as a species, vulnerable and not accountable for our actions. It is all very confusing. Yet, there is so much greatness in the world in all spheres of life and not often enough spoken about – the unsung heroes of daily life. The so-called great conquerers of old have played their part and make for bad role models. What we need now is a measure of sensibility, greatness in small things. Modesty. Unpretentiousness. Humility. Respect for all forms of life on this planet, including our own and that of others. Co-existence will be the new history. History as we know it must come to an end.
With love as always
Walter & Colleen
Betty’s Bay, Saturday 24 August 2013
*Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the last Man. Free Press 1992.