We are living in an unprecedented time in history, which is even bigger than both world wars because the level of potential harm is global and irreversible.
Many people will be familiar with the saying that has its origins in the First Nations of what is now called America, “When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten, and the last stream poisoned, you will realize that you cannot eat money.” It is now very clear what could bring this apocalyptic future into being and we are approaching it with ever increasing speed.
We are facing several potential global extinction events, climate change: ecocide through resource depletion and the destruction of the natural world: nuclear war in which the government of Britain is the first to declare its intention for first use, or pre-emptive strike: and the biological extermination of species.
Each one of these events is driven by greed and couldn’t care less-ness and not one of these events is happening in isolation. All of them are subject to intense debate and I sometimes wonder if the last words ever uttered on this world might be, “Oh no it isn’t!” Oh yes it is!” And human life will end as we dive over the cliff in a pantomime display of stupidity and futility. If any or all of these events come about, that would be a highly appropriate end, except there will be no one to record it, or if there is, no one will see it.
I would like to set a specific date here for the purposes of illumination. 1066 saw the invasion of Britain by the Normans and if the ensuing 951 years should have taught us anything it is that any solutions to the problems we face today in the UK (and globally) have never and will never come from the top. And for the sake of ease. let’s call is 1000 years because we can be damned sure that the Normans did not invade a socialist republic with rights to land, liberty and freedom from paying taxes for the wars of the aristocracy, or fighting them, for that matter.
Nor must we forget the patriarchy of the church, In 1536 William Tyndale was burnt at the stake for translating the bible into English, ‘According to Tyndale, the Church forbid owning or reading the Bible to control and restrict the teachings and to enhance their own power and importance’. I think he had a point, enough to be burnt at the stake for it.
Human kind have been around for 200,000 years so it only took 199,900 years, give or take, for women to fight for and to get the vote, or if you’re a creationist who believes the world has been here for just 6,000 years, it took 5,900 years for women to get the vote.
For the Tories, it has taken them 199,990 years to work out that people are best motivated to work by depriving them of the means of survival and that there is no magic money tree when the production of money is a mere manufacturing process or tapping on a keyboard and is not, in fact, a naturally occurring, finite or scarce resource. In that same amount of time, the Tories have managed to work out that poor people should pay for the failures of the rich and that human rights are a thoroughly bad idea.
After 200,000 years of evolution many still vehemently believe that in terms of hue, humans who are pinky white are good and descend in a sliding scale of ‘not good’ to ‘rubbish’ depending on how dark people’s skin is, aided and abetted by propaganda rags like The Sun, which took a magnificent 199,947 years to publish it’s first copy and begin to spread its particular brand of hate and bile.
According to the Institute for Economics and Peace of 162 countries covered by a study in 2014 only 11 countries were not involved in conflict of one kind or another.
We have invented cities and urbanisation and technological marvels that defy the imagination, but civilisation? I rather think the jury is still out on that one.
Speaking purely for myself, although I know I am not alone, I have lived my life hoping that in some small way, within my very limited area of influence, I might add something positive to the world, to leave this world better for my endeavours. For some that will have been the pleasure of learning how to kayak and to enjoy the thrill of white water, for others I hope I helped them expand their awareness and make a better life for themselves and others from reduced and difficult circumstances.
I have not lived any kind of saintly existence and have contributed my own hurts on others, though ignorance, selfishness and personal inadequacy and failings, which I look back on with profound regret. I have lived a life which has involved the liberal use of non prescribed drugs which have helped expand my awareness considerably, and sometimes not. I have been an alcoholic and a generous donor to Scotland’s Whisky distilleries and done my bit for the Scottish economy, boosting it by I don’t know how many thousands of pounds. I have lived with the blackest of depression and yet have a profound love of life and all its exquisite wonders.
I do not have it within my grasp or understanding to know what we can do to bring the world back from the brink, except this. It will not come from those with power, they have amply demonstrated over at least 10 centuries that they are inadequate, indeed hostile, to the future life of the Earth and all life upon it, other than their own. If there is a chance for life, for the many and not the few, then it is time to grasp the nettle, to stand as never before and to work as never before, to make of this world a better place for all. To protect and not plunder.
Those at the top have also amply demonstrated that they loath and despise us, look down on us and seek to revile and suppress us, but the fight back has started and this truly is an unprecedented time.
As tough as it is, as tough as they make it, never give up the dream nor cease to work to make it a reality, because if there is hope for the world, we are it, we are the repositories of hope and we must not only nurture and protect it, we must help make it grow as living examples for the world we wish to protect and inhabit.
It is not just a case of fighting and exposing an enemy, it is having something we are fighting for. David Cameron said. ‘We’re all in this together’, he was lying, of course. But those words can mean something to those of us who believe that they are the way forward, who believe that working together is a simple truth for a better world. Gandhi said, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change”. Is that not a self evident truth? Or take the words of Aneurin Bevan, “The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with faith to fight for it”, is that not also self evidently true?
The Tories are liars, they have to be liars because they do not mean us well, if we mean each other well and if we mean the world well, there is no reason to lie and every reason to be bold with the truth. We have absolutely nothing to hide or need to plot in dark corners or speak robotic words of insincerity. If you and I want to change the world, that’s something to shout about and to act on. It requires no hidden motives, just sincerity.
I have been a writer for some years now and I have always tried to write in plain language and not to spruce it up with academic pretensions. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it must be sincere.
I am 66 and my life is looking decidedly autumnal, but till the day I die I will want to do well by others and want wellness for them and act on it. I think it is natural to wish I could do more, I think that goes with the turf and the drive towards a better world for all of us. That said I have no regrets for my efforts, I learnt long ago that no one does a perfect job but if we do our best, that’s good enough. I wouldn’t be ashamed of an epitaph that said ‘Good enough’, whereas if it said ‘More than enough’, that would be pretentious and ridiculous. Life is intensely challenging and we need to step back at times, flogging ourselves to do more and do better is completely counter productive. That’s a pretty good recipe for a nervous breakdown, I am in a position to know, I’ve had three. For any one person to think they can save the world, or ought to, is just silly, but together, as is happening, in the UK, right now… that’s a very different story in the making.
KOG. 15 July 2017