‘Meeting Gorbachev’ and the state of the world in 2019

I watched the documentary Meeting Gorbachev on the NatGeo channel.

This is a very worthwhile documentary for old folks like me who remember the 1980s, as well as those too young to have been there.

There are many interesting tidbits in Meeting Gorbachev, even beyond the in-depth study of the ex-Soviet leader himself. For example, the deaths of three Soviet premiers–Brezhnev, Andropov, and Constantin–in rapid succession in the early 1980s. For a while, it seemed that the Soviet Union had a new head-of-state every other month. 

Meeting Gorbachev made me nostalgic, but also a little sad. In 1986, the year I graduated from high school, the US, USSR, and the UK were governed by Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Margaret Thatcher. In China, a reformer (but alas, no democrat) named Deng Xiaoping was at the helm. 

In 2019, 33 years later, we have Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Boris Johnson leading the US, Russia, and the UK. The Chinese ruler, Xi Jinping, is a short-sighted, saber-rattling autocrat. 

In 1986, the world was far from perfect. The technology, moreover, was not nearly as slick and convenient as it is today. There was no Internet, no cell phones, and a lot less to watch on TV.

There was, however, reason to believe in 1986 that the world was in basically capable hands, and heading in a more positive direction. 

Today? Not so much…