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It’s hard to be an optimist today – Red Bluff Daily News

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Recently I’ve been sensing a “ripple in the force” – as they would say in Star Wars parlance. Something is happening in the world.

I read concerns this morning about the formation of a new authoritarian China/Russia/Iran axis to counter the world’s major democratic powers. Weren’t we all getting along reasonably well not too long ago? Now there is even talk about an invasion of Taiwan, or shooting down Speaker Pelosi’s plane if she visited the island. The US primarily had a “let sleeping dogs lie” policy about Taiwan. The invasion of Ukraine has made the subject current once again. I think the US seeks to convey our serious support of Taiwan to keep any “Ukraine-like” invasion thoughts by China at bay.

I was starting to believe that most of the world was heading toward a more peaceful coexistence – but I was wrong. I’m reading a book about Winston Churchill and his stewardship of Britain during the Second World War – (The Splendid and the Vile, by Erik Larsen.) The accounts of the Nazi bombings of Britain paint a stark picture of many civilian casualties, folks Hitler intentionally targeted to break the will of the English people to resist. This seems so similar to what we see in Ukraine.

It was Churchill who said that “those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it.” I’m not particularly knowledgeable about WWII, but there seems to be some similarity to current events.

It has been posited that an attempt to stop Hitler when his expansion plans first began, rather than appeasement, might have averted WWII. Pundits have drawn parallels between Russia’s takeover of Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine in 2014 and Hitler’s initial actions. I found the war and atrocities in Eastern Europe after the break-up of Yugoslavia almost unbelievable. But it happened – just like the invasion of Ukraine.

Will this conflict escalate and draw us into a conventional war with Russia? If so, will China seize the opportunity to invade Taiwan? The possibility is certainly there, as well as the more dire forecast of a nuclear conflagration. In an autocracy, the country’s leader makes all the decisions. Unless Putin decides to admit defeat, the war will continue. There were at least 42 plots to assassinate Hitler. Short of an end to Putin by coup or assassination, the war will undoubtedly continue.

And the world has now embraced the reality of climate change, in light of the recent European heat waves and fires due to drought, as well as numerous weather disasters. Pieces on YouTube cover the best places in the US to relocate, in light of increasing global temperatures. The folks in Vermont are getting ready for an influx of folks relocating there because of concerns about the future. Those apocalyptic sci-fi novels don’t seem quite so far off now. Imagine some day in the future when the water to Los Angeles is turned off. It will not be pretty.

And Covid is still with us, and will probably remain so for years to come. And the comparatively benign Monkeypox as well. And I recently learned one new statistic, about which I was completely unaware. Did you know that substantially more people take their own lives each year than those killed as a result of armed conflicts and criminal activity combined? I had no idea this was true. So, suicide is a very serious problem folks. But things will get better, right? I’m an optimist – but unfortunately, I’m also a realist. So, that ripple in the force that I sense really frightens me. I hope I’m wrong.

Corky Pickering and his wife relocated from the Bay Area to Cottonwood in 2014. He recently retired from the federal government as an attorney advising law enforcement. He has been a rock and roll bass player and a Marine JAG. He can be reached at thecork6@gmail.com.  



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