A simple but significant question about the time in which we live: when are we? That is, looking at past events, how far along would we say we are in within a given historical progression (assuming one can say)? Assuming one can say is hardly a simple conditional, but if one could venture a guess, what might one guess?
I’d say that, nationally, we’re at the beginning of something, where that beginning will lead to far worse and far more volatile conditions, perhaps for many years. I say that locally, we’re in the middle of something much smaller, where this small city is likely to see a continuing but slow decline, likely for several more years.
Which, though, matters more? In good national times, one might principally focus on local matters (although I’ve always argued that local should be considered from a national perspective). Yet, I’ve not even the least perceptible feeling that these are good national times. On the contrary, these days have the feel of incipient loss, with this beautiful republic at risk, of a kind unlike that expereienced within our time.
I write all this coldly, with composure, as I’d guess the country has a not a sudden, but rather a lengthy, time of struggle ahead.
Perhaps one can’t find the comparison, but it’s worth noting that a man in the Boston of 1861 or in the New York of 1939 would have more on his mind than events close at hand.
At the least, one would hope so.
If ever one had confirmation that a narrowly and exclusively local focus was foolish, then one has that confirmation now.