In your eighties, if you’re content with your past life, you will age with grace; but if you look back without any sense of accomplishment, you can become discouraged; we reap what we sow – mine’s a mixed crop. I get solace from a particular quote from Carl Jung – who described his younger self as “arrogant and ruthless in pursuit of his vision”. I find Jung’s candour helpful in my own appraisal.
Whilst my sins are probably no worse than most, I get frequent glimpses of past behaviour which make me groan with embarrassment – there was so much I didn’t want to acknowledge in those days; too much activity; too much booze; my tail always on fire. Yes, we did some stuff that I was proud of, things that worked, but looking back is rarely enjoyable – too hectic – some days are better.
My present theory is, that most of what we call ‘personality’ is reactive – shaped from childhood as we learn to defend against anxiety and sadness. I imagine myself as a very needy and demanding child who wanted a big slice of the action – ‘heroic’ delusions. Gradually, over the years, I have come to prize the opposite qualities – ordinary, no-fuss folk, who get it done. This is a George Eliot quote: “…for the growing good of the world, is partly dependent on unhistoric acts: and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs ”.
The free market brings economic growth, which brings global warming; to save the planet we need to move beyond capitalism; so how can we let the richest man in the world, Elon Musk, get hold of one of the biggest megaphones, Twitter, so he can promote his version of ‘freedom’ in a world unconstrained by laws, shareholders or accountability. It is a democratic imperative that major social media platforms should be in common ownership so that they can operate for the common good; my model would be public sector broadcasting protocols. But there is little sign of any appetite to curb the power of billionaires; it’s as if we’re all in awe of their money – as though the capitalist order were sanctified. Opinion piece in the Guardian.
If you asked me a few weeks ago, what is the greatest challenge of our time, I would have said climate change. Now I’m not so sure it’s not nuclear war. I no longer ask if things might escalate – but rather if there’s any chance they won’t. Grim reading in the Conversation as the Russian invasion of Ukraine moves to ‘Stage Two’.
In the early years of SNP, I remember writing ‘full of praise’ that I had never felt so close to Scotland’s governance – changed days. Article in Monday’s Holyrood Magazine headlined, ‘Secret Scotland: scrutiny, accountability and the media’. It seems that the SNP’s electoral lead is so secure that they no longer need to bother with trivia like transparency.
Whilst it is relatively straightforward to outsource standardised treatments like cataract operations, the more complex, longer-term work of the NHS is usually kept in-house. Questions are being asked why NHS England pays the private sector almost £2bn a year to treat psychiatric patients rather than recruit/train NHS staff. Guardian Editorial.
Apparently, the Aldi/Lidl supermarket chains are opening new stores every week; Lidl is now offering a £20k finders fee for new locations (nice gimmick). I find the success of their business model, and core values, inspiring; and I don’t think we’ve yet seen the full impact of where they could take food retail in the UK. Check the morale of frontline staff.
Edmund Burke (1729-1797) had this, now famous, insight: “To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections.” David Marquand commented on this in ‘The Unprincipled Society’.
“Burke obviously believed that small groups were the building blocks for big ones: that the emotions which held a whole society together were rooted in and developed by the groups of which it was made up… In this perspective, a flourishing political community will be a mosaic of smaller collectivities, which act as nurseries for the feelings of mutual loyalty and trust which hold the wider community together, and where the skills of self-government may be learned and practised… Plainly, this implies that political decisions should be taken on the lowest possible level of government”.