I’m very tired of living in a city where many people are too scared to look you in the eye. They are too scared to engage with you even in the simplest ways. I’m not sure what they are scared of. But my experience has been that when you engage with other people, they turn out to be other human beings. I’ve not met any monsters or aliens by making eye contact with other people as I’ve walked down the street.
This inability to engage comes over to me as rudeness. It costs so little, in the way of effort, to be polite. It makes a huge difference to everyone involved to when that effort has been made. It can change a really difficult experience into a pleasant one. It can change a pleasant experience into a really lovely one. It is almost always worth the effort to be polite.
People will tell you that manners are to do with respecting other people, but this is only part of the story. Manners are also to do with self-respect. Actually, manners are more to do with self-respect than they are to do other people at all.
How you, or I, feel about ourselves impacts on everyone we come into contact with. People who don’t like themselves can be really difficult to be around. But I’m not looking to allocate blame. The blame game is unproductive and self-defeating. It hooks everyone into staying in the same place, calculating and allocating blame.
Negative ways of thinking seem to be being reinforced by the trash in the media. Blame, fear, bad manners, selfishness, are common place in all aspects of the mainstream media. This is because these negative ways of thinking stop us from realising how unhealthy our culture is, how much we have become lost, where the real problems are.
The real problems are not other people, most other people are just like us, struggling to survive and make sense of this mad world we find ourselves in. The real problems are how the wrong things have become important. Do you know someone who has, at some point in time, lost all their worldly goods and status? Have you ever talked to them about it?
If you get the chance, do listen to them.
I had a student many years ago. A nice man, lovely wife, interested and interesting. One day he told me about how he had lost everything, money, status, his family. He didn’t regret any of it. He said it had made him realise what was important. He had rebuilt his connections with his family, and made a new life that he found fulfilling.
He’s not the only one, I have met many people over the years who have rejected what they were told was important, they built their lives around what they knew to be right. Not because they are selfish, quite the reverse, because they are generous and caring people. These people are the true heroes of our time. They are trying to spread love and understanding. They are trying to live by values that make sense of the world as we should all understand it.
I’m not sure if you’ve heard about Spoon Theory (if you haven’t I strongly recommend you read this: http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/), it’s a brilliant way of explaining how difficult it is for people with health problems to do even basic, everyday activities. I personally think Spoon Theory can be expanded to the whole population.
If you assume everyone is given the same number of spoons at the start of the day, then it would be safe to assume that everyone would have the same amount of energy etc. to get them through the day. But, would it be right to assume that the playing field is level? I don’t think so. It isn’t for anything else, so why should it be for this?
So, what’s my point? I suppose it is that we all have different levels of energy, drive, health, etc. We also all have different things that we feel we need to achieve. If we use spoons as our unit of measurement we could say that we all have a different number of spoons at the start of the day, and we use those spoons in different ways… kinda seems self evident. But I’m trying to get an understanding of why some people get involved in activities of resistance (personal politics) and other people don’t.
In British society today the people at the bottom of the pile use up lots of spoons in just worrying about how they are going to survive. These are the people that the ConDem government believe are expendable because they have the least to lose. They have no security and their focus is predominantly very limited. This is one of the reasons they seldom get involved in politics, they don’t have the energy (spoons) to get involved. Another reason is they have been told they are too stupid to understand (that is someone else stealing their spoons), and they don’t have the vocabulary to get involved (there’s another spoon gone).
But there are people who do get involved in politics even though they are in the “few-spoon” situation, this is because they don’t worry about how they are going to survive. This gives them a few more spoons to play with. Some of them even borrow spoons from the future, but you can’t do that for long. They don’t worry for a whole variety of reasons, they have friends they feel they can rely on, they don’t care what happens to themselves, they feel that what they are dong is more important…
So, people who do have the vocabulary, who haven’t been told they’re stupid, what about them? Well, distraction is a great way of using up spoons. One of the biggest distractions is bringing up children. If you’re a parent, you know that your children will steal every spoon you’ve got (mostly in the nicest possible ways), finding time and energy for anything other than your family is more than a little difficult. It’s made doubly so by insanities like having to choose which school you want your child to go to.
This imposition of unnecessary choice is one of the great ways the successive governments have distracted ordinary people from being involved in politics at any level. Instead of making people choose schools, they should have been putting money into making all schools, and colleges, great to work in and great to learn in. But that would have been giving people spoons (including those very shiny, confidence spoons), and that has never been the plan.
There are a myriad other distractions, to keep people away from thinking about how they are using their spoons and whether they are using them to the best effect. Thousands of ways of using up spoons to keep people incapacitated. But personal is political, even if it is unaware. Choosing not to get involved is a political act. It is handing that power to someone else and trusting them to make decisions in your best interest.
Who do you trust to use your spoons wisely?
The noise, the damn noise, there is no let up, there is no peace. A siren from a police car, ambulance, fire engine. The beeping from a lorry reversing. The car alarm, the house alarm… Noise on noise on noise…
The hoover reverberating through the wall from next door, someone shouting at their kids, the constant stream of traffic noise, the bin men, the delivery people banging on the door. Noise, so much noise.
In the garden nothing changes, the helicopter over head, the airplanes heading to places quieter than this, the party music out the back. The fireworks. Too much noise.
And in the park the children shouting, screaming, crying. The parents even louder still. Dogs barking, yipping. And there is no peace.
And I’m worn thin with the constant abrasion. I just need some peace.