Fire and rain


These are the strangest days: days when I think the world is balancing on a knife edge. I don’t doubt that historians of the future (assuming there is much of a future ahead of us) will look back on 2020 as a pivotal year in history, and I wonder what their verdict will be on our actions and decisions.

That does sound rather dramatic, I know, but there have been years like that before, even in the past century. 1914, 1929, 1933, 1939, 1945, so many of them, but 2020 will certainly rank up there as one of the most important. Just look around the world and see what’s happening.

It isn’t just a global pandemic: the 1918-1919 one was even worse, in terms of deaths at least. That one killed at least 60 million people worldwide, though no-one is sure of the exact number of millions. This one is bad enough, with the entire world, it seems, experiencing a severe shock to its system. And, of course, it’s not over yet. But when its effects are combined with other elements, the “total storm” resulting is exceptionally serious. Because, in the political world, things are probably more uncertain than they have been since the 1930’s.

Both China and Russia are continuing to develop under their new Czar and Emperor, as both Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping install themselves as leaders for life. The European Union is facing serious disruption, at least temporarily, as Brexit looms at the end of the year. Yes, in spite of a referendum, two general elections, and three Prime Ministers, Britain has yet to “Get Brexit Done”, as Boris Johnson promised and claimed to have achieved already.

When the effects of Brexit are added to those of Covid-19, the world is facing a major challenge to its economic prosperity in the coming months and years. Comparisons with the Great Depression of the 1930’s do not inspire confidence; but it may well be that the world’s economies will have to work together to deal with issues that will affect them all. A new kind of Globalism, perhaps? Then again, it could be a new kind of Isolationism, where the strongest economies will take advantage and impose their will on the weaker ones.

And, to add the element of complete unpredictability to the scenario, we have the United States going through what could prove to be its death knell. As near neighbours, we can look on in a sort of fascinated horror, as the country tears itself apart in racial strife, economic meltdown, social disruption, and political chaos. It is divided as never before, at least since the end of the Civil War in 1865, with the people split on a wide range of social issues.

And, striding the chaos like a Colossus of Insanity, we find a man who has proved himself singularly unfitted for the job of President. A man who has spent three years pre-pandemic undermining the authority of experts and the reliability of the media. Once the pandemic hit, he dismissed it, then blamed China, experts, everybody except himself, before simply walking away from all responsibility while ordering states to re-open. Now the death rate and infection rate is higher than ever, higher than just about every other nation on Earth, with no answers in sight. Canada, on the other hand, has to keep its border with the U.S. closed in order to protect ourselves from the fall-out to the south. Again, I believe, because of Trump, other countries, such as Brazil, are following the Americans down a deadly path.

There is so much more to point to in order to prove this is a pivotal point in human history; but let me add one more thing. The undermining of trust in news agencies and medical experts, and the role and influence of Trump’s attitudes and Twitter rants, has led to rational measures and expert advice becoming politicised. People refuse to wear masks as a political statement. The insane response to a deadly pandemic is: “wearing masks should be a personal decision. I should be able to choose for myself: it’s my right”. This is precisely the same as saying that I should be allowed to drive drunk, without a seatbelt. It should be my personal choice, my right. We reject that attitude, rightly, because doing those things don’t just affect you, they could lead to other people being hurt or killed. But that doesn’t seem to over-ride some people’s ideas about freedom. And those attitudes are echoed in Canada, in North Grenville by some.

There is a genuine fear that, should a vaccine against Covid be found, too many will refuse to take it, believing it is all part of some dreadful conspiracy to do something by someone for some reason. That could have a very negative effect on its efficacy.

During the reign of Napoleon, Metternich, Austrian Chancellor, said: “When France sneezes, the world catches a cold”. This can, with truth, be said about the U.S., and it is especially true that when the U.S. sneezes, Canada catches a cold. What is happening south of the border affects us, and will continue to do so. The results of the American elections in November could see the end of democracy there, or the start of a slow recovery of the American Experiment. Either way, like it or not, we have to be informed, we have to know what’s happening, and we have to be ready for what comes next.

And we must continue to stand on guard for Canada and what we value. This is a pivotal year, we have to try and pivot in the right direction.


  1. Thank you David. An excellent editorial. I agree wholeheartedly.
    let’s pray that there’s an end to the Trump nightmare this year at least the end of his presidency


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