A Tsunami of Despair



I believe the west is in decline. No that is much too tame a statement. I think we are all Screwed. We are done. Our collapse is inevitable. I hope I am wrong. But I doubt it.

Here are some interesting statistics. 50% of people in places like U.S. and Australia suffer a serious mental illness before attaining the age of 21 years. Does that catch your attention? [1]

That great twentieth century philosopher, Woody Allen, got it right when he said, “More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose wisely.”

In the 2016 U.S. Presidential election campaign Donald Trump captured imagination of about 60 million Americans, nearly half of the voting citizens, and he did that by realizing the “benefits of despair.” He realized, when pundits and professional politicians like Hillary Clinton did not, that there were advantages to be seized from rampant despair. And there was rampant despair. As George Packer, one of America’s finest political writers pointed out,


two Princeton economists released a study showing that, since the turn of the century, middle-aged white Americans—primarily less educated ones—have been dying at ever-increasing rates. This is true of no other age or ethnic group in the United States. The main factors are alcohol, opioids, and suicide—an epidemic of despair. A subsequent Washington Post story showed that the crisis is particularly severe among middle-aged white women in rural areas. In twenty-one counties across the South and the Midwest, mortality rates among these women have actually doubled since the turn of the century. Anne Case, one of the Princeton study’s co-authors, said, “They may be privileged by the color of their skin, but that is the only way in their lives they’ve ever been privileged.” [2]


As a result it should not surprise anyone that by the time 50% of people who have reached the age of 21 years in places like the United States and Australia have suffered a major mental illness.

A major symptom of the despair is the desperate measures so many people in the rich and privileged western world take to dull the despair. For example, the opioid epidemic in North America is exactly that–an epidemic. I heard on CBC radio that in 1 Vancouver hospital they admit 17 patients every day with drug overdoses![3]

One of the things few people have realized is the extent to which the election of a black man to the Presidency rocked the world of white men, particularly white men, from the rust belt of America. They were shocked. Many of them could not believe it. How could a black man be President when their own circumstances were so demeaning? It just did not seem possible. Unrecognized racism was a major factor in the election of Donald Trump. It is an unrecognized factor in the despair of the white working class. This must be carefully examined if we are to avoid even more serious consequences than the election of a man to the American Presidency who does not read. Does that seem possible? I know how serious that is, but I also think that things can and might get even worse. I keep remembering that nearly 60 million Americans voted for Donald Trump a man more obviously unqualified for the job than any person in the history of the United States presidency. No matter what happens to Trump America will have serious problems. Trump is a symptom; he is not the problem. Even after Trump stops being President this uncomfortable fact will remain. Sort of like a turd on the floor.

At the same time, to these same people who supported Trump in 2016, they were faced with the possibility that a woman now might become President. How could that be possible? First a black man; then a woman. This shook the foundations of the world of white male privilege. And they reacted crazily. And they will react crazily again.

After at least 500 years of dominance, white men have started to realize that their time of privilege is ending and there is nothing they can do about it. For many of the white men have never managed to take advantage of their privilege. That can’t possibly be their fault. Can it? Many of them justifiably to some extent, do not see their lives as privileged. They seem to be in dire straits. To them it looks like everyone except them is privileged. No one cares about them.

White working class men are beginning to realize that the new economic order does not seem to have a place for them. It seems to many of them that the best chance they have is a job at MacDonalds or Wal-Mart. Not that there is anything wrong with such jobs. They are just not what these men have been dreaming of. And they know how to dream in high def. But their gig is up and many of them got nothing. It doesn’t seem fair to them. For many of them, it is too late. Their dreams will never be realized.

As a result their self-esteem has been shredded. Their jobs are gone and they have nothing to be proud of any more. How can they look their children and their wives in the face? They have no dignity? At least it seems that way to them.

At the same time these men are often confronted with uppity women who earn more than them. Their dignity is gone. Even women are better off than them. Even blacks are better off than them. Many of these men turn to hatred of women and hatred of black. That is the only way they see that they can react to this unfairness.

And this is just a lift-off to things to come. Things are about to get a lot worse.


[1] Pria Viswalingam, film “Decadence: Decline of the Western World,”

[2] George Packer, “Head of the Class: How Donald Trump is winning over the White Working Class,” The New Yorker, (May 16, 2016) p. 31

[3] CBC Radio The Current (December 19, 2016)

One thought on “A Tsunami of Despair

  1. Thanks for the uplifting message Mr Meanderer. I see you were quoting JR without the curse words.

    I shall try and sleep tonight and not totally despair. Mdw

    Sent from my iPhone


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