At such times, scattered phenomena come together to produce a mood of foreboding. I think, for example, of the growing impatience with the political process. When television becomes more powerful than parliaments, people quickly realise that the newsworthy gesture gets you more attention than years of lobbying and representation. Violence becomes photo-opportunity.

Then there is the collapse of the concept of national belonging, the feeling that we are all in this together and that the distress of some of us is a matter for all of us. Far from being a means of integration, multiculturalism has become a path to segregation. There are fewer mixed neighbourhoods, more urban and suburban ghettos. The ties that bind grow ever weaker. The forces that divide become stronger year by year.

Our sense of time seems to be changing. We live in the moment, with little feeling of connection to a national past and a collective future. News comes to us in soundbites. We experience events less as chapters in a novel than as a series of music videos, disconnected images bound together by rhythm not narrative, pace not plot. We are losing the long-term prospective that alone allows us to make sense of events and feel we are part of a collective story. ~Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, Timesonline.co.uk

Hat tip to Andrew Stuttaford.

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