I went to Europe the first time when I was 20 years old. The continent was exciting and exotic to my wide eyed innocence. Changes were on the horizon, but I had no idea what that meant. For me, everything I saw was new and different from what I’d known in America.
The Berlin wall fell, the Soviet Union imploded, and the specter of nuclear war faded a bit from the headlines. Maybe, I thought, the peace and prosperity the world wanted was finally at hand. That wasn’t the case, but I remember hoping, even expecting a lasting change.
Today, Russia is a growing power again, though they’ve learned some hard lessons along the way. China, has joined them as a dangerous little brother all grown up and ready to prove himself on the world stage. Europe has undergone a raft of demographic changes, but remains haunted by the scars of incessant warfare. There have been changes, but few for the better.
Meanwhile, America has stood by and either ignored those changes, or pushed an agenda on other parts of the world that never made any sense to me. Withdrawing from Afghanistan, after a decade of occupation has brought more chaos to that corner of the globe than our invasion ever could have. Iraq is not much different, but America has an incentive to stay there, if only for the oil Iraq produces. We became Imperialists despite the best of intentions.
So, I guess I was right. The world was changing. It is changing. The world is always changing, because people are always changing. The problem is not that things change, or even how they change. The problem is allowing those changes to frighten us into making decisions about those changes that make world more dangerous. More dangers are coming.