Minutes from my cottage, Midhope Burn runs through the woods, on its way to the Firth of Forth; near my regular burnside perch, there’s a giant oak tree around 500 years old – which makes it contemporary with Mary Queen of Scots, born 1542 in nearby Linlithgow Palace – which completely blows my concept of time.
Heavy rain makes the burn swell and burst into song; sometimes, when sitting in thrall, it seems to flow, not past, but through me – vibrating every cell in my body. Humans like to think we’re somehow different – but we’re part of wild nature.
Another place I like to sit, and think is my bench in the graveyard opposite – I find dead bodies peaceful. I was reflecting today on the swing of the pendulum during my life from left to right – Thatcher said greed is good – money became all important – the rich loved it. My sense is that the pendulum is getting ready to swing back again. I’m not referring to myself so much – having neither wealth nor property, I mostly kept myself free to choose what I did with my life – a great blessing.
Still top of my bedside pile of ‘soul books’ is Lao Tzu’s ‘Tao Te Ching’: “Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill. Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt. Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench. Care about other people’s approval and you will be their prisoner. Do your work and then step back – the only path to serenity”.
Watching snatches of Tuesday’s Presidential ‘debate’, left me feeling sorry for the majority of Americans, who didn’t vote for their bizarre, foul-mouthed President. Of all Trump’s outrageous notions, it’s the racism that’s most offensive; much closer to overt fascism than I ever thought possible in mainstream USA politics. Even if he loses the imminent election – even if he accepts the result and departs – there is still the original problem of the anger that elected him in 2016; this anger, about a ‘rigged’ economic system which favours a tiny elite, still hasn’t left the streets. America needs to shape itself a new dream – where the common good is sovereign – without racial discrimination; where billionaires are banned.
Public attitudes to taxing the rich is a serious issue – and seems to depend on how they got rich – by merit or by luck; this is the main finding of a new study from Denmark (in The Conversation). Inherited wealth should be significantly redistributed whereas wealth from hard work and risk taking deserves more respect.
My long-term support for Universal Basic Income (UBI) as a strategy to end UK poverty – has always been undermined by claims that it was unaffordable. Exciting piece in openDemocracy by two credible economists, whose analysis suggests that the net cost would be £67bn per year – only 3.4% of GDP – well within reach. It gets closer.
Does ‘taking back control’ mean from Edinburgh and Cardiff as well Brussels? I’m not very aware of what leaving the EU will mean for tariffs and trade – with or without a deal. This Conversation article from Cardiff University identifies some of the issues, including internal changes to the structure of devolution.
The replacement of predatory capitalism with a gentler ‘wellbeing’ economic system remains the human mission. This piece is by John Perkins, a former economic hitman (his words) who has seen the light. He lists the key characteristics of both the ‘Death Economy’(past) and the ’Life Economy’ (future). As the global economic pendulum starts to swing back from the right to the left – expect all sorts to join in.
Jung taught that only by consciously assenting to our inner voice (our unconscious) can we find wholeness – our individual `self`. He saw this as a `spiritual` process bringing a sense of calm acceptance and detachment.
“If the unconscious can be recognised as a co-determining factor along with consciousness, and if we can live in such a way that conscious and unconscious demands are taken into account as far as possible, then the centre of gravity of the total personality shifts its position. It is then no longer in the ego, which is merely the centre of consciousness, but in the hypothetical point between conscious and unconscious. This new centre might be called the self”