I’ve nicked a story about the late/great Joseph Heller (Catch 22) – being told that his hedge fund host at a party, had made more money in a day than Heller had ever made from writing Catch 22. “Yes”, said Heller, “but I have something he will never have – enough”. Having ‘enough’ has nothing to do with levels of wealth or anything else; it’s ‘internal’ – an orientation of the psyche/soul; the Latin word for ‘enough’ is ‘satis’ – as in satisfied. Although I’m not consciously on any spiritual path to ‘awakening’ – I was getting frequent visits from ‘satis’. These visits have stopped – and I blame the virus.
It wouldn’t surprise me if I’ve already had Covid 19 – but my grasp of reality is not reliable just now; just as likely that anxiety is fuelling my imagination. Is this level of dizziness and confusion normal for my age – or are these quarantine symptoms? In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, I’ve tumbled from Level 5 (creative fulfilment) down to the fear and fitfulness of Level 2; no wonder ‘satis’ no longer visits.
The nearest I get to composure these days is in the garden – grounded in the rhythms of nature; neuroscience tells us that the brain has its own ‘gardener cells’, whereby troubled minds can reconnect to themselves. I proudly grew sweet peas from seed this year – but despite two full vases in my cottage, I can’t detect any scent – which, of course, is a symptom of Covid…..For heaven’s sake, Laurence – will you give it a rest.
Of the Chancellor’s announcements on Wednesday, his Kickstart Job Creation Programme for young people was of particular interest – with some deja-vu. Those of us with memories, from the early 1980s, of adapting the Manpower Services Commission youth training projects to the needs of local communities – know that there are lessons from that era (many captured in this Fabian Society pamphlet from Sept 1985). I predict a resistance from established employers to the hassle of creating new Kickstart jobs – which could leave more opportunities for the empowerment of our community sector. I hope someone, somewhere, is scoping the possibilities, and formulating a strategy for communities.
I was at the Senscot Conference in November 2019 when Neil McInroy, CEO of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies, led the discussion on Community Wealth Building; great news this week that McInroy has begun a part-time secondment to Scottish Govt – to further roll out this strategy for boosting local economies.
Fintan O’Toole, in full flight, skewering the deluded national exceptionalism of our English neighbours. O’Toole believes that Boris Johnson’s ‘greatest’ rhetoric is costing lives – because ‘bravado’ doesn’t shape outcomes. More credibly, Nicola Sturgeon treats the virus with appropriate fear and caution.
Of all the economic recovery advice doing the rounds – I’ve chosen Joseph Stiglitz in Social Europe – because I agree with his values. While not exactly optimistic, he argues that public spending on such a massive scale should, at least, be aimed at long term benefit – a ‘green transition’, more ambitious than roof insulation.
Economist George Kerevan, whose journalism I’ve grown to respect, claims in this article that Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership of the SNP, has moved ‘bodily to the right’ – protecting a conservative, neoliberal status quo. To disrespect Scotland’s First Minister can feel almost heretical – but I’m glad I read this leftist analysis.
I love quotes that give out a truth – 5 gems from Ursula le Guin.
– You cannot buy the revolution. You cannot make the revolution. You can only be the revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere.
– There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.
– Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.
– Children know perfectly well that unicorns aren’t real, but they also know that books about unicorns, if they are good books, are true books.
– It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.