Anything can happen. At least, more things than you can imagine can happen.
Facebook, after trouncing yet another quarter’s earnings report, has now climbed to a market value greater than that of Berkshire Hathaway. It may be temporary, it may be forever. Regardless, at the current moment, a ten year old company with few physical assets and a small amount of employees is now worth more than an empire built by Warren Buffett over the course of 50 years.
How many people had the imagination to picture something like this as being within the realm of possibilities, let alone a likelihood?
Masha Gessen writes about our lack of imagination regarding graver things at the New York Review of Books:
Lack of imagination is one of our greatest handicaps as humans and as citizens. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, one of the richest men in the world, could not imagine that Putin would put him in jail, and this was one of the reasons he ignored repeated warnings and stayed in Russia. Then he spent ten years in a Russian prison. David Cameron could not imagine that his fellow citizens would vote to secede from the European Union, so he called for a referendum. Soon after the vote last month, pundits in both the UK and the US regrouped and started reassuring themselves and their audiences that the UK will not really leave the EU—because they can’t imagine it. I have spent much of this year arguing with my American friends about Donald Trump. Even after Trump had won enough delegates to lock up the Republican nomination, reasonable, well-informed people insisted that some Republican savior would swoop in and reclaim that party. There was little, if any, evidence in favor of that kind of outcome, but for a brief moment many Americans seemed to believe in the unlikely rather than the obvious. Why?
“I just can’t imagine Trump becoming the nominee,” many said at the time. But a lack of imagination is not an argument: it’s a limitation. It is essential to recognize this limitation and try to overcome it. That is a difficult and often painful thing to do.
Today, after doubling-down on his intentions to abandon our NATO allies over money, the GOP’s nominee expressed a desire for the Russian government to hack his rival’s emails. He hasn’t apologized. He already told us he never will. It’s the only thing we can trust him on.
The flag-wavers who are not phased by all of the other horrible stuff he’s said will now truly find themselves in a conundrum. “Wait a minute, Russia? I didn’t sign on for that…” The cognitive dissonance will be on full display as they resolve in the direction of intransigence. No one can be seen to change their mind anymore. “You’re just taking him out context.”
It’s still happening. He’s the Republican party’s nominee. The unimaginable thing. Now watch him win.
Every beheading in Europe, every shooting spree in the US, every car bomb in the Middle East brings it that much closer. Every failure of the Democrats to address the now nightly horror show in the world news report takes it from the realm of the unimaginable to the edge of “It’s real. Oh my god…”