People’s ‘belief systems’ have always interested me – sharing insights with ‘fellow travellers’, has been a lifelong pleasure. Whether from God or Fate or Destiny or whatever, many believe that their life follows an ‘intended’ path – somehow ‘meant’; there is clearly a powerful human need to feel under the protection of some benevolent force. It could be pleasing to think of a God who knows Laurence Demarco – to regard every incident in my life as potentially part of a bespoke plan – but that’s not the way I see it. Like Albert Einstein, I believe in a God revealed in the orderly harmony of what exists – not a God concerned with the fate and actions of human beings.
“Traveller, there is no path, except the one your footsteps make as you go”. These words of the Spanish poet, Antonio Machado, resonate with me – because he is saying that the responsibility for what happens to us, rests not with some supernatural power, but with ourselves – that we choose our own destiny. But here, I must also admit that I’ve ‘hedged my bets’. If we date humanity, from when our handprints first appeared on cave walls, that’s about 45,000 years. I find it necessary to believe that ‘the human project’ will end well; only ‘belief’ that human ‘goodness’ will prevail, allows any ‘meaning’ on this journey.
The novelist, Graham Greene, wrote somewhere: “If you have abandoned one faith, do not abandon all faith. There is always an alternative to the faith we lose. Or is it the same faith under another mask”.
This Conversation piece discusses the impact of ‘deliberate untruths’ as a tactic to set the agenda of political debate. It says that once a lie, and the liar, has found a sympathetic ear, which fits their worldview, no amount of rebuttal will convince people that it’s not true. Like Donald Trump before him, our UK Prime Minister tells deliberate lies, causing all manner of blunders – causing not the slightest decline in his popularity. It’s the impunity which is particularly worrying. I’m not suggesting Johnson is going to incite a right-wing mob to invade Westminster – but given England’s current mood, I have no sense of what antics he could ‘get away with’ – scary for democracy.
On becoming PM in July 2019, Boris Johnson pledged ‘a clear plan to fix the crisis in social care once and for all’ – but Monday’s Queen’s Speech ducked it again. Are we going with the model of the NHS – a universal service for all – a ‘wellbeing’ society; or are we going with the private/profit model – a market society. This is a big one.
In this Social Europe article, Paul Mason casts his ‘leftie’ eye over election day, and the mess that is the Labour Party. “Johnson has made greed, corruption, white victimhood, xenophobia respectable in the ex-industrial small towns of England…… socially conservative working-class voters despise the poor, students, refugees and human rights”.
Labour’s new Scottish leader, Anas Sarwar, certainly has good manners – but as Lesley Riddoch writes, he urgently needs a new position on IndyRef2 – to separate himself from the ‘permanently angry’ unionism of Douglas Ross. The urgently needed renewal of the political left in Scotland is not him either – he’s probably right of the SNP.
This story is about supportive ‘lockdown’ calls between a busy, young woman and an old man living alone – a 92 year-old Italian immigrant called Alberto. I found it an uplifting exploration of the subject of loneliness; the psychological factors which determine why some people feel lonely, and others don’t.
Loved this cartoon from Le Monde.
Bluebird by Charles Bukowski.
” There’s a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I’m too tough for him, I say, stay in there, I’m not going to let anybody see you. There’s a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I pour whiskey on him and inhale cigarette smoke and the whores and the bartenders and the grocery clerks never know that he’s in there. There’s a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I’m too clever, I only let him out at night sometimes when everybody’s asleep. I say, I know that you’re there, so don’t be sad… then I put him back, but he’s singing a little in there, I haven’t quite let him die and we sleep together like that with our secret pact and it’s nice enough to make a man weep, but I don’t weep, do you?”