Author: Jochanan Stenesh
Publisher: Merriam Press
Just when you thought you had seen and heard all of the world's bad news on television or the Internet, along comes Jochanan Stenesh bold primer, A World at Risk,that will surely give you nightmares.
Whether you agree with Stenesh or not, he should be lauded for exposing in clear and well-researched essays what many readers really don't want to hear or know about and prefer to bury their heads in the sand.
This work of an imagined future comprises twenty-one short essays that zero in on several global flash points as well as the examination of contentious issues describing what may happen in the world within the next two decades. Let me tell you, it is not a pretty picture.
Stenesh uses as his format dispatches that were published in a fictional newspaper called The Daily Independent Courier by way of a series entitled World View written every Sunday by bureau chiefs of the paper over the period 2020-2040.
Beginning with a communiqué from Amman Jordan, we learn that Iran has just conducted its first nuclear test in May 2020. If you remember in 2015 we had been assured that Iran would not be permitted to possess nuclear weapons. We now have a devious, fanatical country with nuclear arms. And as the case in many other instances, the UN as well as the rest of the international community is powerless to do anything about the fact that Iran did not honor the 2015 agreement with the six powers, (USA, France, Germany, China, Russia and Britain) whereby it agreed not to develop nuclear arms. How dangerous will this be to the world? Will various political movements as Hezbollah and others have access to nuclear arms? Will Iran use terrorist groups to strike at Israel and other Middle-East countries. More frightening, will Iran carry out its oft-heralded aim of “wiping Israel of the map?”
The next twenty essays take us to the nightmarish hot spots of Dubai, Ukraine, Somalia, Nigeria,Morocco, Israel, Macau, Egypt, Hong Kong, North Korea, Taiwan, India, and Sri Lanka. In addition, there are several essays dealing with dangerous issues as the accelerated rise of extremism throughout Europe wherein neo-Nazi and other far right groups are growing as well as radicalized elements within the Muslim communities. Another bone of contention is where we have an alliance established to combat the perceived increasing secularism in the USA. The movement has become a political powerhouse that serves as an umbrella organization for virtually all of the Religious Right groups.
And then there is the matter of climate change where we see the ongoing warning that failure to address global warning effectively and in a timely manner has now caught up with the earth. Not to be left out is the discussion involving the separation between church and state in the USA where in 2031 we have a decision handed down by the Supreme Court that states: “no citizen, regardless of the public or private office he/she holds, should be barred from openly expressing his/her religious beliefs, be it in speech, writing, display, practice, or in any other form.” This decision has produced an immense number of changes in both public and private life. If this is not enough to keep you awake at night, we also have in 2035 the Department of Education releasing a directive urging high schools to revamp their biology curricula. They are now obligated to teach the latest version of creationism side-by-side with the theory of evolution, and to treat them as equivalent scientific theories.
view of their current trajectory, many of these scenarios may be
plausible, nonetheless, we still have to ask ourselves is predicting
the future futile or even necessary? After all, can we in fact
predict with any kind of certainty what will happen in 10, 20 or 30
years from now? And should we even try, when the future is uncharted
land? I believe it is important to realize that we are active actors
in the shaping of our future events and we definitely should have a
strong interest as to how it will turn out. For the most part, what
Stenesh has accomplished is to force us to read the trends which may
be gloomy, nonetheless, we need to think carefully about these issues
as well as the future we want for ourselves and our children. The
better we comprehend them the better chance we will have in steering
the ship of fate along a well-chosen path. How will it all turn out,
no one really knows. Lets us hope it is not as depressing as what we
read in the book's essays.