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Commentary: A societal earthquake shakes the United States across several fronts | Suspension




I only had one earthquake. It was in Izmir, Turkey, in 2014. The ground moved and rippled under my feet. Buildings shook and people were frightened.

Americans have reason to believe that they are in a societal earthquake of unknown intensity or long-term outcome. Everything we’ve known and trusted about Earth—politically, socially, economically, technologically, and globally—seems to move. Institutions are shaking, technology is erasing the familiar; New and disturbing politics are rampant, left and right. Significant climate change has arrived.

Our foreign skill set is found to be deficient. Fear of the future is present in our consciousness.

Our politics may be the most shaky in our intuition. What we are used to knowing how to do — like holding elections — is called into question, and reforms, as in Conservative voting bills, threaten what we held to be safe: that very election. Electoral results are widely questioned in a way never seen before.

We used to think we knew how to teach kids. Now, that’s questionable because the political factions are fighting over the school curriculum, not to mention the masks for the kids. To quote from an old ad, “What does a mother do?”

The COVID-19 virus continues to devastate, low but invincible. He made his mark: he’s reshaped work and play to an extent that we don’t yet understand. At least 10 million jobs are begging, and workers don’t want those jobs. They range from drivers and warehouse staff, reflecting the shopping revolution, to airport workers, hospital staff, and of course restaurants.

We don’t know if work-at-home systems will survive or if the human need to congregate will triumph. Do you stay away from the office or wait for the phenomenon?

Technology controls our lives, and that’s not always easy to live with. Try talking to any airline, insurance company, bank, or government agency, and you’ll need a thorough knowledge of computers because the person calling or recording wants you off the phone and online. That is, even if you called him because you got stuck online at first.

If you reach a human being, usually in Asia, that spirit probably won’t have the advantages that come with English as a first or second language.

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The biggest hard-to-reach corporate asset is not, as they used to say, you, the customer. Stop complaining and wait for the Customer Service Representative, who will tell you to get lost after waiting for hours. You are now a tiny bit of big data, which some in the data field have called the new oil.

The poor, who should be the beneficiaries of new technologies, are victims. Take, for example, the people who don’t deal with banks: that many people who don’t have credit cards or a bank account. They can’t ride from Uber or Lyft, and taxis are almost completely absent on city streets.

Those without bank accounts, if they can afford it, cannot check into a hotel without plastic, make a reservation for tickets or go to a concert.

They’re on the wrong side of the digital divide – and that’s a bleak place to be. These are the children who have not received any education during the lockdowns and will suffer their whole lives as a result.

The rise of China has damaged our self-esteem, and we fear we are looking into the abyss of the Cold War or worse.

Likewise, the tragic end of our era in Afghanistan has eroded our faith in our ability to right it. (Heck, even “Jeopardy” can’t choose a host.) Our intelligence agencies seem to have failed completely, and our military doesn’t seem to be the winning organization we’ve been so proud of for so long.

After the earthquake, nations rebuilt the structures. We need to start rebuilding our institutions, the first of which is to support the democratic system.

Our democracy has not fallen yet, but it is shaking as the earth slides beneath it.

Llewellyn King is the executive producer and host of “White House Chronicle” on PBS. His email is [email protected] He wrote this for





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