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Paul Kirkley: Did we forget to enjoy the peace?





Watching the terrible scenes unfolding in Ukraine, and feeling the chill of a new Cold War – complete with the return of every ’80s school kid’s favourite night terror, the threat of nuclear annihilation – I keep coming back to the same question: Did we forget to enjoy the peace?

For most Europeans, the last 30 years really have been a time of extraordinary peace and prosperity. But did we forget to enjoy the peace?
For most Europeans, the last 30 years really have been a time of extraordinary peace and prosperity. But did we forget to enjoy the peace?

Because, for most Europeans, the last 30 years really have been a time of extraordinary peace and prosperity. Granted, it’s not one that everyone has got to share in – names like Srebrenica and Beslan still stain the history books while, in Britain, widening inequality has created a growing underclass. But for the majority of us fortunate enough to be born in the western world, this has been, in the words of Barack Obama, the best time in human history to be alive.

And what did we do with this peace dividend? Did we take time to reflect on the lessons of history? Did we put our energies into ensuring the dark days would never return? No. Instead, a grim coalition of populist politicians, newspaper editors and pot-stirring ‘commentators’ encouraged us to think that everything was terrible, that we’d never had it so bad, that the world was going to hell in a handcart and that our very way of life was under threat.



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