"At home certain trends—crime, cultural tension, some cultural Balkanization—will, we fear, continue; some will worsen. In my darker moments I have a bad hunch. The fraying of the bonds that keep us together, the strangeness and anomie of our popular culture, the increase in walled communities . . . the rising radicalism of the politically correct . . . the increased demand of all levels of government for the money of the people, the spotty success with which we are communicating to the young America's reason for being and founding beliefs, the growth of cities where English is becoming the second language . . . these things may well come together at some point in our lifetimes and produce something painful indeed. I can imagine, for instance, in the year 2020 or so, a movement in some states to break away from the union. Which would bring about, of course, a drama of Lincolnian darkness. . . . You will know that things have reached a bad pass when Newsweek and Time, if they still exist 15 years from now, do cover stories on a surprising, and disturbing trend: aging baby boomers leaving America, taking what savings they have to live the rest of their lives in places like Africa and Ireland."
Prescient. Hard to believe she wrote this 16 years, ago, but then again, not too surprising if you're already familiar with Noonan's uncanny ability to perceive long-term trends that are just snapshots in time to the rest of us.
Too bad more people aren't listening to her and Mark Steyn and a few others, determining to swim upstream and get others to swim with them...because the weird detachment of the decision-making classes in politics and academia and the pessimism of the rest of us about the probability of change is leading us right into the world of Rand's Atlas Shrugged -- frogs in a pot with the water gradually turned up until there's no getting out.
Noonan ends today's national portrait:
When the adults of a great nation feel long-term pessimism, it only makes matters worse when those in authority take actions that reveal their detachment from the concerns—even from the essential nature—of their fellow citizens. And it makes those citizens feel powerless.
Inner pessimism and powerlessness: That is a dangerous combination.
Finish reading Noonan's in-between insights here and know that, likely, in 2026 you'll look back at today's column and wonder, "How could she know that?"
Labels: Social Observation