Sunday, 26 June 2016

The Necessity of Kindness

 The events of the past few days make one nostalgic for the relative innocence of the 60s and 70s, where young people wanted to 'make love not war' and believed they could.  But, while we were trying to seduce the world with music, cannabis and flowers, the corporate crocodiles were sharpening their teeth and claws and preparing to become social, economic and political assassins. Which goes some way to explain the mess we're in.


People are not less kind than they were before Thursday's referendum.  The result has simply given expression to what people have been feeling for a long time.  Like lancing a boil, it will be messy for a while, but the underlying condition needs to be dealt with. We must not demonise those who voted in a different way to ourselves, or blame the Leave voters for their wish to inflict harm on an establishment that refused to listen to their distress.  In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, there's a moment when the monster cries in agony "I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend." Misery, anger, frustration and inequality, fueled by Austerity, provoked by Corporate Capitalism at its worst, produced the referendum result.  Now, without recriminations, we have to find a constructive way forward.

From a Green, environmental point of view we need to get back to smaller, locally based economies - trucking food and goods across the world ruins the environment, is expensive and wasteful, and does no one any good except the corporate interests who benefit. We have to think positively about growing our local economies and making sure that the vulnerable in our society are properly cared for.  During the past two decades particularly, this has not happened and these sectors have been seriously neglected. But this more domestic approach to politics shouldn't mean that we're not also continually looking outward, and trying to be compassionate members of the world community. After all, no referendum on earth can take us out of that! We still depend, absolutely, on each other.


I believe in absolute equality, regardless of gender or ethnicity.  As for religion, provided your beliefs don't involve harming anyone, you're welcome to them. And I believe passionately in keeping our doors open, while there is any food on the table at all, for anyone who needs it more than me.  Most of us have too much stuff, we eat too much, drink too much - we could share more and we have to in such an unequal world.  The world we're looking at is not the same one we were living in even 20 years  ago.  There are big decisions to take, some of which are going to be painful.  We have to think about spending money on the necessities of existence, education, health care, new green infrastructure, rather than weapons to wage wars that create more refugees, and more misery. Climate Change has become one of the biggest threats to life on this planet (and that includes us) and solutions are going to entail more sacrifices to the comfortable way of life we've become accustomed to. Like Dr Frankenstein, we have created monsters and let them loose in the world.

But in the immediate moment, the reality is that we are now in the politics of nihilism, which involves tearing down everything in the the hope that something better emerges.  Let's all work together to make sure it does.  We need a really strong vision and a collective will to get us out of here. The squabbling among the spoiled brats on the front benches, on both sides of the house, disgusts me and has seriously dented what confidence I ever had in the political process.  Meanwhile, let us treat each other with kindness.  We're going to need good friends and neighbours in the days ahead.


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