The idea that we’re living through history is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately; not just in the sense of, it’s all going to be history someday, man, but watching events unfold around the world — specifically in the U.S. and the U.K. in the last three years or so — it’s difficult to actually fully comprehend the fact that what is happening right now is so extraordinary and unusual (and, let’s be honest, completely screwed up and fucked) that all of this is literally going to end up in history books someday to be studied and questioned and over analyzed.
We are, I think, raised to believe that was live in uninteresting times. Perhaps that’s a generational thing, or a geographical point; I know that, while American Exceptionalism is an all-too-real thing, amongst my peers in my home country, we felt particularly un-exceptional, living with the idea that history happened to other people and our best days as a culture were probably behind us already. (Oh, Britpop, what had you done to us…?) The notion that we were witness to massive, substantial events just didn’t seem likely.
Of course, that was already true, even if we’d written it off as otherwise. I can remember with shocking clarity watching news reports about the Berlin Wall falling, or the Challenger shuttle explosion. I was there for both things, but they were the aberration, not the norm. The norm was an era past its best, soon to be forgotten.
What I’d give now for that feeling of unimportance, of smallness. Instead, democracy feels under real, legitimate danger in both the country I was born and the one I adopted, and everything feels precarious in a manner that is all too real. History is around the corner, looming, ever-watching and, more than anything, it feels scary to be so aware of that.