And I’m thinking how utterly impossible it is to imagine 500 years from today. Perhaps there will still be a bookshop here, and people walking the pavements. Or perhaps all of it will be gone and who knows what will be where it stood.
Our age is one of transience. The technology of today will be outdated in five years, obsolete in 20. The buildings thrown up, concrete and glass and fake brick facia, they won’t last a hundred years.
They look and feel like pop-ups. The only thing created in 2021 that will last 500 years is our waste. The plastic spoon will outlive the most extravagant modern building, this inversion cannot be considered progress.
And when even the buildings are built as temporary structures, where is our modern heritage, our foundation, our national identity being formed?
So identities move online, an illusion within an illusion, worlds built on sand within a 30-minute egg timer, to be flipped over and over, as if one’s life depended on it. All is indeed vanity and it’s offshoots, and in vain.
So many distractions, the immediacy of the distraction itself becoming a necessity, our attention spans halved, and halved again, our brains becoming a reflection of the online media we ingest for most of our waking day.
There’s a futility to our current age, a triviality. It seems to lack depth, gravitas, even as we stumble through crisis after crisis.
Maybe it’s because we have no true world leaders. I can think of only one who comes close, a 17-year-old girl.
There are no true world leaders, only leaders of nations. And they measure their success against other nations, and all slide backwards.
We have no true world leaders. None. But a swarm of a million ‘influencers’ with nothing of value to offer.
In the UK, our political leadership is trading its credibility for fig leaves to cover it’s own incompetence and petty corruption, and have disengaged with such basic principles as truth and honour.
We disengaged from the EU, and the only way that isn’t going to be a downward slide is if our politicians have a vision for society above that which could be achieved as part of it.
Leadership requires vision. It needs to be radical, elevated, aspirational. Currently absent.
We now have, supposedly, the ability to shape our country and culture into the form we choose. Yet no-one seems to have a vision for what that looks like, a vision of the future rather than a misty-eyed past.
The way seems obvious, it’s not hard to read the weather. Green technologies and ecologies and economies, humanitarian and environmental prioritisation.
If the opposition parties want to slogan to get behind, it’s Environment First.
And the other desperate requirement is a vast social services sector, not run by central government at huge inefficiency and expense, but decentralised, and funded by the embedding of it into the consumerist process, a system I have previously described and will do so again.
We also need a shift of what we admire, what we aspire, what we call good.
So much of our society is vacuous, for how much longer will we be impressed with glamour and rejecting of substance.
We need a cultural movement where doing good is encouraged, and failing to is called out. A culture where self-promotion for vanity’s sake is seen for what it is, and unfollowed, and where ambitions to save lives and heal people are respected and supported.
We need to go deeper into ourselves and our humanity. We are so much better than this, than the paucity of our present culture. We have such potential, and are so misguided.