Not “government”, representation.

This “British” society is not good for anyone. It is not working to anyone’s benefit. The majority (only just) party is working to disassemble the safety net that is the welfare state. They are taking away the means of survival for the most disadvantaged, they are reducing the possibilities for the merely poor, they are making life a misery for those in work, they are reinforcing the mentally (and physically) destructive behaviours that make them think they have a right to destroy other people’s lives.

We need to stop calling them “the government”. They have no right to make decisions that go against their constituent’s interests. They are our representatives. They are supposed to represent us, not work to destroy us. They are not given their positions through god’s will, they are voted for by the electorate. Sometimes the electorate is both misinformed and misguided, we need a more honest and reliable media, one that prides itself on it’s integrity, one that sets itself against abuse in all it’s forms, one that sees titillation for what it is (playing to the lowest common denominator), one that respects it’s readership/viewers. And we need a government that embraces these values too.

We need to work towards a healthy and kind society, one that we can be proud to be part of. We also need a way of triggering a general election when it is obvious that the current majority party is not representing the majority of the population.

Advertisements

This too shall pass…

OK, I’ll admit it. I’m struggling. My depression hasn’t left the building like I thought it had. The many and varied atrocities committed by our government, the precarious situation globally, and one or two personal stressors have got me down.

Don’t think I’m giving in without a fight. I have my lovely Tim and the wonderful Shelley G Shepherd, some fantastic friends and relations, who help buoy me up with their love and support (thank you all). I take great solace from nature, even stuck in the middle of this city.

But the world has gone so far down the wrong road, the current British government more than most, that my personal emotional resources are currently at a low ebb.

Because of the changes made by Ca-moron, Osborne, IDS (such a nasty disease) and their cronies, I’m going to have to stop being self-employed… just before Christmas. Not that we spend much on Christmas, but now we can’t spend anything.

I know “this too shall pass away”, but just at this moment I feel more like a mountain has been dumped on my head. I WILL get over it. I will continue to try and persuade people that we need a kinder, less judgemental world. There is (as Gandhi said) “enough for everyone’s need”, we need to sideline and marginalise those who are driven by greed. Not with hatred but with a sorrowing compassion. They are truly unhappy souls, I wouldn’t trade my depression for their unhappiness.

So, my friends, to all of you who are finding these times hard, know that you are not alone. We are the many (maybe even the legion) working for a better, kinder, more generous world. And know that I, and all our fellow travellers, are holding your hand.

The Preface to “Finding Our Way Home”

A long time ago my mother taught me to read. She thought it was a good idea. So did I. I could lose myself in wonderful stories of other worlds. This world always seemed to be such a disappointment. I still read whenever I can find the time and peace to do so.

Many years ago I became interested in alternative lifestyles. I remember a time when we all thought the world was going to end in a nuclear winter, now everything is going to melt. I suspect every generation has it’s own apocalyptic vision. That said, it is evident that modern western culture cannot continue consuming the world’s resources, at the rate it is, indefinitely.

We have a choice. We can either continue as we are and wait for disaster to force our hand, or we can start trying to change things. One ripple at a time. It seems ridiculous not to. The way British society works at the moment doesn’t seem to be very healthy, or happy. Surely it makes sense to start to make a happier, healthier world if we can.

Not to try isn’t really an option, is it? Anyway, talk is cheap, and this is me, talking on paper (or not, if you’re looking at a screen to read this). I have endeavoured to reference ideas when I could remember where they came from. Some have been with me so long that I can’t remember if I made them up or I read them somewhere.

I have read pretty extensively over the years. In my 30’s and 40’s I studied, and then taught, sociology and psychology. I read a lot of “pop” psychology before that. I’ve also read a smattering of philosophy over and above what was necessary for my degree. I have an abiding interest in media and cultural studies.

But for a large proportion of my life I read science fiction, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, Kim Stanley Robinson, Katharine Kerr, Anne McCaffrey, Douglas Adams, Iain M Banks, Ursula Le Guin, C J Cherryh, William Gibson, Elizabeth Moon, and many, many more.

In addition to the science fiction I read other fiction writers J R R Tolkein, H G Wells, Daphne Du Maurier, George Orwell, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, I even read Proust! So many different ideas, so many different possibilities. The dismal and the uplifting, the hopeless and the hopeful, the difficult and the easy, I read and absorbed as much as I could.

In the meantime I was trying to cope and make sense of life as I was experiencing it. I got involved with running a smallholding, and bringing up my daughter, my normality was very different from most people’s. I read about self-sufficiency, wrote poetry, fed the chickens, discovered permaculture, milked the goats, tried to overcome my aversion to eating meat, learned to spin…

So, it’s not really surprising if I come at things from a slightly different angle from most people. I always have done. I did even before that period of my life. I can remember my college economics lecturer explaining to me once that when he gave our class the choice of two essay titles, the rest of the students would choose one, and I would choose the other.

I guess I might just have been born ornery. Anyway, my mother is still telling me about the way things are, and I’m still saying “but they shouldn’t be”. In these pages I’m explaining why I think they are, and how I think they could be. I really wish they could be…

Insecurity

In Britain today insecurity is endemic. Our current society promotes it. There is a decrease in job security; the benefit system is now a lottery with claimants waiting for the moment when they will be sanctioned and left with no way of buying food or paying bills; families are split and spread around the country (if not the world); additionally, there is seldom a community that anyone can fall back on.

It has often been the case that governments have viewed insecurity as a useful tool in controlling the general population. This is because of a couple of basic misunderstandings. The truth is that a government’s role should NOT be one of control. Also, insecurity is only effective for control when it can be maintained at a certain level.

Once insecurity reaches a certain point it becomes something else, it becomes hopelessness, total disconnection. People who are either hopeless or disconnected are not easy to control. Governmental response to such people is to marginalise and/or criminalise them. They do this because of the first misunderstanding (the government’s role should NOT be one of control).

Over the generations the role of government has been distorted and twisted. If we look back to Athens we find something very different from “democracy” as we experience it. Not that we could, or even should, replicate it now. It had it’s own flaws and inconsistencies. But it’s intent was different. It was an attempt to make decisions for the whole community without being reliant on a system rooted in “might is right”.

“Might is right” is how you get a monarchy. You maintain your monarchy by adding some mumbo jumbo about the “divine right of kings”, and then prop it up with the “old boy’s club”.

In Britain a version of democracy was grafted on top of that. It’s not surprising that it has become a form of control that works to support those that have at the expense of those that have not.

And we come back again to insecurity. The “haves” know that their position is not secure, so they use their greater access to governmental positions to try to bolster themselves. Their understanding of the world is warped though by their financial privilege, and the belief that some people are more important than others.

At the other end of the scale, that belief is echoed, and those who have little believe they are worth less and gradually move away from mainstream society. Some are very angry, and an angry person who believes they have nothing to lose can become violent very rapidly.

This is a violence that is increasingly near to the surface. It is a violence that is unlikely to be directed to any positive end. It is an unnecessary violence and a violence that will hurt everyone. It is created by “man’s inhumanity to man” as Burns said. I, for one, am looking for a different answer. A way to assuage people’s insecurity, to recreate community, to reconnect individuals with each other and the wider world.

We all need to be more confident in ourselves, we all have something of significance to offer. None of us is worth less that anyone else. We can turn away from the negativity and nihilism of mainstream politics and media. We can invest in ourselves and Transition to a kinder, more supportive world.