The 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall has a lot of people thinking existentially, and their insights illuminate some interesting aspects of how we think about the past and future.
First, check out this fascinating op-ed in today's NY Times by Ross Douthat. He asks why aren't we celebrating our victory more, and then points to a deep seated need for people to feel under threat in order to spur moral behavior.
"Twenty years later, we still haven't come to terms with the scope of our deliverance...we keep returning to the idea that liberal society is just as vulnerable as it was before the Berlin Wall came down...These paranoias suggest a civilization that's afraid to reckon with its own apparent permanence. The end of history has its share of discontents - anomie, corruption, "The Real Housewives of New Jersey." And it may be that the only thing more frightening than the possibility of annihilation is the possibility that our society could coast on forever as it is - like a Rome without an Attila to sack its palaces, or a Nineveh without Yahweh to pass judgment on its crimes.