Historians are adept at naming spans of time. We have the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and the Atomic Age, for example.

I wonder how future generations will make sense of these times in which we live, in which many barely subsist. No doubt they will come up with a nomenclature that best epitomizes our current age.

If I could be so bold as to aid future historians, may I suggest the “Neo-Dark Ages.” I would fold the so-called “Enlightenment” into this proposed historical period and expand it to our present times; basically, from the late-17th century until today. If we wish to be technical, from the bloody rise of the United States empire to its current decline could be understood as the latter stage of the “Neo-Dark Ages.”

This Neo-Dark Ages may be coming to an end. This is a moment in time when the United States finds itself moving toward a new political reality. This new reality might be centered on justice; still, I fear that instead it appears to be leaning toward apartheid-type structure, which safeguards the white supremacy upon which the United States was founded.

We can argue that this eurocentric ignorance within the U.S. empire has undergirded its existence since the founding of the republic. Its roots can be traced to a period ironically called the “Age of Enlightenment,” a misnomer because this period normalized and legitimized bloodshed to establish white supremacy, patriarchy, rigid economic class division and hyper-individuality.

Based on the religious, philosophical and political worldview that took shape during this “Age of Enlightenment,” those on the margins of the emerging European states experienced death at unprecedented levels.

This Neo-Dark Age is marked by the genocide of almost the entire Indigenous population of the Western Hemisphere, the brutal enslavement of a major portion of the continent of Africa, and wars over religion leading to a massacre of those who refused to worship the white God of the colonizers (in other words, the Holocaust).

What I believe gives this period the signifier “Neo-Dark Ages” is the celebration of ignorance, especially by those who self-identified as Christians, specifically evangelicals. Science and rigorous research are ignored for conspiracy theories and allegiance to a messiah called Q.

The total disregard for human life and human liberty has flourished during this time, as cruel and sadistic indifference for the basic human rights of those relegated to the margins of the empire and the planet are institutionalized.

Under the banner of liberty and freedom, an allusion of democracy is suppressed by instituting laws within the U.S. which deny nonwhites the right to vote. Through political structures dating to the time of slavery – gerrymandering and the electoral college – the least qualified who celebrate ignorance rise to power.

What better proof of this reign of ignorance than a television reality star becoming president, even though he lost the popular vote in 2016 and incited a riot to remain in power when he again lost the popular vote that denied him a second term.

Even after the live feed of “patriots” storming the capitol to overthrow an election at the urging of the president, the recording of pressuring a governor to “find” votes to subvert the election, countless legal cases for corporate corruption, and criminal trials for rape, he remains the frontrunner of a political party which rhetorically and historically demands integrity.

The consequences of celebrating ignorance are dire and deadly. As a global pandemic ravished the U.S., common sense precautions like mask wearing or vaccines were ridiculed by the highest elected officials, even to the point of recommending the ingestion of a horse dewormer drug or common household bleach.

This ignorance also defines global warming as a hoax. Even as we face an increase in severe weather – colder winters, hotter summers, more violent hurricanes and tornadoes, higher number of forest fires, greater incidences of flooding – we continue to ignore our complicity in killing the planet.

We are at a moment where one of the major U.S. political parties is calling for the “liberty” and “freedom” to ban books in libraries and schools and to forbid the teaching of any history which discredits white supremacy.

Women have lost control of their bodies and those who refuse to conform to the strict heterosexual norms of our times are finding new obstacles in loving whichever consenting adult they find attractive.

Claiming to be pro-life, they advocate for a culture of death. Subjecting the right to life to the right to bear arms, we have ushered in a period of terror and violence.

For example, in 2020, over 45,000 people were killed by a gun, increasing to almost 49,000 in 2021. People are literally being gunned down going about everyday activities – attending church, going to a movie, shopping for groceries.

In several cases, this culture of death borders on sadism, as it is extended to refusing life-saving medical procedures to women whose lives are endangered by pregnancy, or transgender individuals in need of therapeutic medication.

On the borders of this nation, those at the lowest rungs of society – the undocumented – are abused and killed. Every three days, four brown bodies die crossing a desert in hopes of circumventing a wall which many gleefully chanted to build. Children, some suckling babies, were literally torn from their mother’s arms and cast into dog cages.

The social and political structures of this Neo-Dark Age are at the breaking point – no longer sustainable. We will either socially devolve into greater death and darkness, or transition toward a real Enlightenment that once and for all dismantles white supremacy.

Will we transition to a more justice-based social and political order, or will we digress to the depths of greater savagery and brutality? Free will means we get to choose.

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