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‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of Hope, it was the winter of Despair.’

Charles Dickens’ opening to his classic novel, The Tale of Two Cities’ in 1859, describing London and Paris in the time of the French Revolution could describe the current state of our world. Echoes of Dickens’ paragraph of paradox, has re-emerged where the rich have never been richer, or the poor, poorer.

In our world we witness the growing gap between the have’s and the have not’s, literate and illiterate; poverty of leadership, confusion of conspiracy theories, stench of corruption, secrecy and denial, profound knowledge and misleading myth; mind-bending technology, obesity, destructive obsession with growth, and the blatant abuse of power.

Yet amidst this winter of despair, some sense a spring of hope. Out of confusion and chaos - the opportunity to rebuild. After the air is clear and the dust settles on COVID, the possibility of a different order - new shapes and structures, or even a return to simpler ways.

We don’t want to stand in the way of progress but we can define what it is.

Blind rage is sightless. Anarchists may want to sharpen the blade of the guillotine, and reform with a battering ram, but the process of helpful reconstruction requires honesty, an objective evaluation of the past with a heart driven by the values of equality and consideration of others. It involves respectful discussion and debate.

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