Our society is on the cusp of disorder, chaos, mass suffering. At least according to many doomers (“we’re screwed”) and peak oil websites. Also many people I have talked to who are afraid of changing the status-quo industrialized mass society use similar imagery to describe the likely ensuing social breakdown.

A quick look at the headlines the other morning reminded me why I rarely read front page news. Two kidnappings in the US on the front page. A convicted rapist kidnapped a 11 year old girl and kept her as a sex slave for 18 years, having 2 children with her. All the while he ran a printing business, lived it up in the ‘burbs, wrote a blog, started a “church,” even fending off his parole officer multiple times. Another “half-naked” man kidnapped a bus full of school kids. He was only caught because he crashed the bus and was held under citizen’s arrest for 10 minutes while the cops came. The story described how a bystander watched as the bus swerved down the road with terrified kids screaming, jumping out the back to escape.

I tried picturing this in my mind and thought, “what the hell is going on?” This doesn’t sound like a functional society. I think we broke down long ago, maybe always been. How else could you justify ethnically cleansing an entire continent? Destiny?

Kids and women all around the world are being maimed, raped, and held in captivity with the threat of violence everyday–but that’s in the rest of the world. Do you think the surviving family of 14 year old Abeer al-Janabi, who was gang raped by 3 foreign occupying soldiers in Iraq after they killed her parents then executed her, fears “society breaking down?”

But I think the fear of losing order is real for many people. The order I believe being described here however is the power structure whereby many, particularly white American men, derive privilege easier than others. If another order is established or decentralized, it is true many privileges will risk being lost.

But this is not necessarily negative. The loss of faith and practicality in industrialized mass society providing for our needs opens many possibilities. I am not saying that a just, sustainable, holistic society will be ushered in by itself. Rather, more space will be open for working in this positive direction as people look for alternatives in order to thrive in the next century.