The US National Intelligence Council stated a couple of years ago that the job of politics and governing is not going to get any easier.
In fact - the world is living in a weird paradox where there is a growing tension between generations ,thanks to the world now being more dangerous, but at the same time more open to opportunity than ever before.
Technological progress has connected people, democratised access to the economy and lifted millions out of poverty, yet at the same time has created an enormous level of mistrust in authority. In the short-term governments are understandably tempted to meet this unease with force, but this only stokes the fire even more.
Hong Kong at this time is a stark manifestation of this trend playing out. The increase in the level of interstate tension is forecast to intensify in the years to come.
But violence in the future is not set in stone - other futures are always available to us.
What is important for a society wanting to avoid street violence and a poor government response, is to be asking better questions as to how to navigate this new modern paradigm together.
The NIC suggests that three key questions are asked:
- How will individuals, groups, and governments renegotiate their expectations of one another to create political order in an era of empowered individuals and rapidly changing economies?
- To what extent will major state powers, as well as individuals and groups, craft new patterns or architectures of international cooperation and competition?
- To what extent will governments, groups, and individuals prepare now for multifaceted global issues like climate change and transformative technologies?
What's clear in the case of Hong Kong is that the leadership of the city is not demonstrating proper leadership at all. They're simply choosing to try quell the uprising with force without actually taking time to understand and talk to the concerns of the people.
Hong Kong should be viewed by other governments as the 'canary in the coal mine'. Start the process of co-creating the new way of working together with an empowered society before rubber bullets need to be fired.
Tear gas is expensive - spend your money on more productive things.