Tag Archives: politicians

The tides of history

Back when I was working on Druidry and the Ancestors, I kept running into a sense of history as something with tides and currents. Some of the books I read suggested that event had a momentum, and that people at the forefront were just riding the tide. There can be a tendency in history writing to ascribe what happens to the influence of a few movers and shakers. However, that sense of current and momentum distributes the ownership a bit. Great (and lousy) leaders do not exist in a vacuum. Ideas of the day, popular opinion, arts, sciences, religion and so forth all shape the mood of the moment, all help to create the current. It may be that we just avoided world war 3, not because leaders around the world did anything spectacular, but because it was so clear that people were not going to support it.

Every moment of history is made out of more actions, ideas, influences and efforts than we can hope to see. The tide of history isn’t a simple current, either. There are whirlpools, eddies and undertows. There are the lingering influences of things we nearly did, just escaped and wish had happened. It is a complex mix, and out this mess we create the future, one thought, one word at a time.

One of the things that generally underpins any status quo (with the possible exception of the band) is that the status quo is normal, natural and inevitable. That makes it hard to imagine any real change, despite the fact that we live with almost constant change, often beyond our control. We also tend to believe that the status quo (still not the band) is so big that we, as individuals, cannot make much impact on it. So what if I cut my carbon footprint? Unless world leaders step up, we’re all doomed anyway…

Except that we are the status quo (ok, I give up…. Rocking all over the world…). If we change, everything changes. If each of us, as an individual, decided to go vegetarian tomorrow, the impact would be massive. We can have other debates about whether that would be a good idea. If we all chose to use fewer animal products, drive a bit less, reuse a bit more – the consequences would be vast. Small changes made by lots of people are tantamount to a revolution. We make the tide, we are the current, and all the politicians can do is try to ride it while telling us they are in charge. Control is an illusion, and it does not hurt the politicians and corporations to remind them of that, once in a while. It only works while we all choose to co-operate. So, what’s the plan for tomorrow?

Being Hateful

We all get angry, that’s just human. Right now, a lot of people seem to be angry, especially here in the UK, with groups of angry people marching to protest about other people. We see the racists getting their banners out, and then we see people who want to “smash the racists” and that doesn’t help at all. I think we all know, if we stop and think about it, that venting our rage on people will not make them change their minds. It will, however, entrench the hostility and give them more reasons to hate us.

When we are full of hate, we quite often feel a desire to make people do things our way, or think the way we want them to. We feel urges to use force to push our desires onto others. Perhaps they have done something awful and we are righteously angry with them. We want to make them pay for what they did, show them the error of their ways. We want to hurt them like they hurt us, in the hopes that they will then understand something. It’s not just about bodily violence, either. There’s the desire to publically shame and humiliate those who have wronged us. Sometimes, there may be a place for that. If a professional person acts unprofessionally, there should be consequences. People who break laws should not walk away untouched.

I get very angry sometimes – with specific individuals, aspects of modern culture, politicians, big business, idiot drivers who seem unable to indicate or perceive bicycles. Idiot drivers who routinely kill wildlife… There are a lot of cruel, stupid and pointless things that humans do, and I get my share of fury over this. That feeling – that if I could only knock some sense into them things would improve. That treacherous, lying impulse that says forcing people to do it my way would make things better. It’s a little voice we all seem to have, and it is a dangerous one. However, culture reinforces it. We treat it as ok to respond with rage and violence to rage and violence. Entertainment seems to be full of people shouting at each other, trying to force their opinions through. We tell ourselves its perfectly reasonable to shout, hit, maybe even kill, if we are cross enough. We justify our own hate as a response to someone else’s hatred, and all we get that way is more hatred, and more, with a side-order of violence.

I started thinking about this blog a few days ago, when I was bloody furious about the way racist elements in the UK are using one awful incident to try and make a few more awful incidents, as though that would balance things somehow. I didn’t write, because I realised that my angry responses were no better than anyone else’s. My hatred is no more reasonable, no more helpful than any other hatred out there right now. Mine is not the magical hatred with the special power to put things right. I’m glad I didn’t post in haste, or in anger. It was as much luck as judgement.

People are full of hate because they are afraid and they want something, someone easy to blame. Hatred comes when we are full of hurt, anxious about what will be done to us, defensive, and vulnerable. Hatred is the easiest thing to manipulate and steer. It worked for Hitler, and for pretty much every other mad dictator you might care to think about. The politics of fear are the politics of slavery. If we succumb to them, they will be used to control us.

Be angry. You are human, anger is one of the things we do. Let it run through you, and don’t act until the anger has run its course and you are able to think. Look to your own fear. Do not let that fear warp your perceptions of other, frightened human beings who are making poor choices right now. If we can get past the fear and the hatred to a bit of mutual tolerance, a bit of patience and compassion, we might avoid a total meltdown.

I’ve been through the long, dark corridors of hatred. It’s not a fun place to be. I do not want to go there again, and that simply means I have to deal with my responses, because I know I’ll still get to heft dead animals out of the road, and dodge stupid drivers, and listen to news items that make me want to scream.

Dear politicians,

I know most of you won’t read this, but I’m writing it anyway because then at least I will have said it. It does not seem to have occurred to you that the greatest assets a country possess, are its people, and its natural environment. Arguably, people are part of the natural environment, but that’s a whole other story. People are one of your most valuable assets not because of what they might do for GDP, what they might produce, the tax you can raise from them or anything else of that ilk. People are your most important asset, because they are living, thinking, feeling beings. A country should take care of its people, and take pride in taking care of its people.

The health of your nation is one of your greatest potential assets. It is worth spending money one, because without health, happiness is much harder to achieve. And, knowing how much you care about money and productivity, now might be a good time to mention that well people are going to be more productive. This does not mean the solution is to tell everyone they are well, and stop supporting those who aren’t. This, between you and me, is a bloody stupid approach bound to make things worse. Stop it. Ill people are not lazy, are not scroungers, they represent incidents of your most precious resource needing support. Treat them accordingly.

Compared to the tax dodges of big business and the financial abuses of the money markets, benefit fraud really isn’t that big a deal. Get over it. I know it’s very easy to whip up hatred against the most vulnerable and marginalised members of society, but this is not ethical and once again misses the point that these people too, are part of your biggest asset.

We only have the one planet. Our water, air and soil are precious resources that we damage at our own cost. And yes, I do mean the kind of financial cost that you are capable of understanding. If we do not take care of our physical resources, we are doomed. This ought to be a no brainer, but too often you put short term money making ahead of long term viability. You might not be in office ten years hence, but you’re still going to have to breathe the air. Think about it.

We have a system that has evolved gently out of tyranny and feudalism. It’s a system that has always put the financial needs of an elite few first. If you want to carry on being the elite few, you might want to try practicing a little enlightened self interest. We are facing epidemic level obesity, anxiety and depression, along with a great many other illnesses. We are in financial crisis. We have an environmental disaster hanging over our heads the potential cost of which is beyond your wildest imaginings. You need to do something about this.

How about we stop worshiping the gods of GDP and profit for a little while, and ask ourselves what actually matters? Does it matter whether the excessively rich get to give themselves million pound bonuses this year, or does it matter that all our young people should be educated to a standard that will allow them to survive whatever the future throws at them? Do we need a few more expensive toys, or would we be better off making sure that our food chain is not loaded with dangerous poisons? People, and the environment should, by any logical measure, be the two most important considerations of any government. Not the income of the few, but the welfare and viability of everyone.

And please, stop with the bullshit about trickle down. It doesn’t. The super rich do not cause much by way of life improvement for others. If you doubt this, look around. Look at the Middle East where extreme wealth lives along side abject poverty. Wealth comes from the roots and it goes up, and currently it accumulates with the few at the top, to the detriment of the majority. If there is no one at the bottom, at the production and purchasing end, making all the small cogs go round, there is no system. Look at how any eco system works. Take out the bottom, the least powerful, most predated aspect of a food chain and watch how the big, dramatic predators die off. Nature tells us that you do not get high level predators without a healthy system supporting them.

To you who would be those predators; the tigers, eagles, sharks of the world, I say this. With nothing to feed on, you die. If you can’t buck up your ideas for any other reason, you might try doing it for that.