I was shocked and stunned by the result our country delivered on the E.U. referendum. The build up to the vote was not our finest hour. Frankly , we look pretty hideous at the moment . The thing is – I don’t quite believe it. I don’t believe that the voters wanted this result – is that arrogant? I think the whole affair has been mismanaged – in fact I was anti a referendum for this reason – we have a government to govern. That is the point of them – to argue out in a reasonable manner the pros and cons of policy. I think the public are astute, but the populace cannot , by definition , read and inwardly digest the intricacies and complexities of economics and social policies via the media. It cannot happen. There will be a small minority who can unpick all the necessary argument and come to a judgement secure in the knowledge that they have equipped themselves with the available information from all sides and critically examined the opposing argument. The vast majority are too busy surviving, or too lazy or disinterested.
Now we are in this position the various factions are running about like headless chickens because they didn’t believe this could happen either. Big mistake.
However, what is important now is that cool heads manage the coming months. Britain will survive because there is no choice. We may have to build some bridges , and that work will be done. Most people I meet are honest, well meaning, and committed to making life better for themselves and for their companions. What is essential is our humanity to others is not compromised. None of us live in a vacuumn and if compassion is at the forefront of policy making as well as daily living , there will be nothing to fear. Fear is the only outcome when the politics of the far right starts to seep into our daily governance and our daily lives.
We need to recognise the danger that the far right brings , remembering the recent past atrocities that shaped our modern politics. It always appears unthreatening in the build up to taking power, and morphs into monstrous totalitarianism almost imperceptibly.
Compassion is the key. Retain it in the heart of politics and daily living and that monster has no oxygen .
Kindsight is my new name for a human superpower.
It is the magical property that inhabits the living. The force that overcomes the sour, the hardened, the exhausted and the weary.
It is our saving grace.
In a world that appears to value money over everything, kindsight is the antidote.
It is the superpower that we see performed in the everyday, in the chaos of what it means to be human.
It is the difference between animal and artificial intelligence.
It is the practice of compassion in a busy, consumerist, exhausted world.
It is the application of compassion in your life. The life you live today. The life where you wake up tired and the toaster isn’t working and the children are bickering and the dog has just peed on the floor. It is the practice that overcomes your battle weary state of mind and prevents you from throwing a two year old tantrum. Because the dog didn’t know what it was doing , and children will always bicker before the school day begins, and toasters break. You put on those metaphorical glasses and begin your day with kindsight – you don’t yell at the kids – they begin their day without the humiliation of a scolding, and the dog is blithely unaware of its ageing and incapacitated bladder.
Kindsight changes you. Kindsight changes everyone. In a secular world , compassion becomes ever more necessary . We tore up the rules, and so we have to write ourselves a guide book , because isn’t that what religion has given human beings for the last couple of millenia? In different guises, under different theologies, guidebooks to help us live co-operative, meaningful lives.
Kindsight is the superpower that you give yourself. It is a sort of cyclical transformer. The more its used the more powerful it becomes. You know that yourself – you’ve witnessed random acts of kindness from strangers – and paradoxically, strangers are often those most willing to show it. Why aren’t those closest to us willing to show the same levels of compassion. It’ s our families and our colleagues that often suffer the worst sides of our selves. It’s because it’s hard to show kindness when we’re stressed and tired. And we’re often stressed and tired. That’s why kindsight is the superpower that will change your life. It’s a gear change – that’ s all it is.
With the benefit of kindsight we can change the world.
Why have ye no routhe on my child?
Have routhe on me ful of mourning;
Tak doun o rode my derworth child,
Or prik me o rode with my derling!
More pine ne may me ben y-don
Than lete me live in sorwe and shame;
As love me bindëth to my sone,
So let us deyen bothe y-same.
A medieval lament for a lost child sums up my feelings today. ‘Routhe’ means compassion , those lacking in compassion are thus said to be ruthless.
Walking the dogs this morning, I was considering the complexity that belonging to the human race involves. I am feeling ‘smooth’ this morning, an expression used by our housemate over breakfast and one that sums up my current frame of mind. Smooth. That may not appear that surprising to any of you readers out there ( are there any?) but it is. Because all of my life I have lived with a realism that results in a constant battle of dealing with an imperfect world. I tend not to catastrophize events in my own life, which is a plus, but the negative aspect is that any joy is tempered by the knowledge that somewhere a war is being fought, or torture is continuing to be applied in areas of the globe I know nothing about. So it is.
It was serendipitous then, that I ventured upon this short video by Cognitive, which expresses so well the importance of realism in everyday life, in the politics , in the economics of living in the 21st century. We have no excuse for not looking clearly at the challenges we face as a species, and today the Rosetta space mission is attempting to land Philae on a comet; once settled, Philae will begin to reveal secrets about the solar system and maybe even give us clues about the origin of life. We have to hold close the hope that is the catalyst to any investigative project, and while we hold it, simultanteously understand the difficulties and hazards that are the barriers to success. Our actions will govern the sustainability of ourselves and our co-habitants of the planet, and it is why we need to be realists in our own endeavours, whether that be managing a family, directing a company, guiding a country, or running a space mission. Realism has to lead to fortitude, and hope has to be our guide.
I was working earlier this morning at promoting my hand made books on a craft site called Etsy, wherein there are forums which enables the site users to engage with one another, a method of bringing people together in shared endeavour. Mainly the forums ask questions relating to their shops, or customers, or problems or simply to have a chat to break up the day. This morning a question provoked my interest as it broke away from the everyday and asked
There was a variety of interesting replies, many supporting the view about how nature was a resource for recharging and inspiration. One reply noted how seeing an animal in distress connected her to the immediacy and demands nature sometimes places on us. I thought about it for a few moments and replied. This is my reply,
“nature holds everything , our existence on the planet is all about connection. When we learn how interconnected everything is, we start to take on responsibility in our own lives for how we choose to live. I am beginning to feel that life is about understanding that interconnection, and living fully within that realisation. It is lifelong learning full of challenges and deep joys. The journey toward Truth and Beauty is the totality of our lives, we determine how far we proceed on that journey. ”
I am loving how rich that journey is, and how important my decisions are everyday, every moment as to how satisfying my brief encounter on this planet is. At the same time I face the constant reminders that the human experience is very different depending what situations we are born into. My responsibility is not only to myself and my immediate family, it extends to all living matter.
I am sending my thoughts out in the hope that they resonate and that as companions in time, we all respect our individual journeys.
The beautiful image is by Monet, an artist who worked tirelessly at his vision of truth and beauty.
Nearly beginning a new year , and that seems to me to be a good time for some reflection in the company of a reknown anthropologist Loren Eiseley. He wrote a piece to introduce part of the fifteenth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, and I have included two small quotes to whet your appetite.
It appears to me that what the author is suggesting , is that the human condition is significantly different to that of other species because of the size of our brain which has adapted to intellectual capacities which we ourselves do not understand or always put to good use. The future of mankind has often in our history appeared to be either dangerously under threat, or at some sort of crossroads that changes how we live. These are times we live in too, technology is driving change at a rate that once could not have been dreamt of. We have threats of climate change which are not inconsiderable. Everyday living makes demands on all of us that we forget to question, and decisions are multiplied exponentially across the globe which continuously aggravates the existing problems of consumption and availablility of food, water, resources.
Sometimes reflection is necessary, to stop and consider how best we can lead our lives individually and as societies. Loren narrates how his father explained some of the deeper questions to him as a youngster, after he had come across a turtle that had been riddled with shot. In that story, LOren’s father describes mankind as a cosmic orphan, struggling to find his way in a difficult, challenging world.
Because man was truly an orphan and confined to no single way of life, he was, in essence a prison breaker. But in ignorance his very knowledge sometimes led from one terrible prison to another. Was the final problem then, to escape himself, or, if not that, to reconcile his devastating intellect with his heart? All of the knowledge set down in great books directly or indirectly affects this problem. It is the problem of every man, for even the indifferent man is making, unknown to himself, his own callous judgment.
I love the power of his storytelling and the insight he displays in his writing, a poetic sensibility which enhances his anthropology.
“None there be, can rehearse the whole tale.” That phrase, too, contains the warning that man is an orphan of uncertain beginnings and an indefinite ending. All that the archaeological and anthropological sciences can do is to place a somewhat flawed crystal before man and say: This is the way you came, these are your present dangers; somewhere, seen dimly beyond, lies your destiny. God help you, you are a cosmic orphan, a symbol-shifting magician, mostly immature and inattentive without humility of heart. This the old ones knew long ago in the great deserts under the stars. This they sought to learn and pass on. It is the only hope of men.
The whole article can be found here
Image is Tissot The Creation
Happy New Year to everyone!
A long time ago, so the legend has it, a young man followed in his father’s footsteps and made such a good job of engineering the Chinese landscape to prevent the catastrophic flooding that plagued their land, that he was made an Emperor. Not a bad promotion, but one he declined at first , agreeing when he was aged 53 . To put a date on it, we are talking about two millennia before we started counting time as a positive number.
One of the few men to earn the posthumous accolade of ‘the Great’, Yu was applauded by Confucius amongst others as a deeply virtuous and moral man. Few records exist from the time, and ballads were a predominant measure of popular thought, this is one verse of many ballads at the time praising Yu for giving the people back their land to farm,
Very grand is Mt. Liang,
Its cultivation being made possible by Yu.
The waters of the Fung flow on to the east.
Through the meritorious work of Yu.
The people of the four quarters have the same
opinion; He is truly a great ruler.
Yu had a right hand man, chief minister Kao-Yao who was responsible for defining the codes of behaviour . I particularly admire his list below – what society would not benefit from such a list? Though I suspect the list came a long time after, since there are virtually no historical records from that period in China.
The Nine Follies:
• To think oneself immortal
• To think investments are secure
• To mistake conventional good manners for friendship
• To expect any reward for doing right
• To imagine the rich regard you as an equal
• To continue to drink after you have begun to declare that you are sober
• To recite your own verse
• To lend money and expect its return
• To travel with too much luggage
Further reading :
I loved Carl Sagans series ‘Cosmos’ and would implore anyone to check out the whole series. This version of a tiny portion is a brilliant comic expression. The man behind Zen Pencils is a real inspiration. Glad I found him!! Show your children, show your friends, show your grandchildren, show the law makers, the law breakers, the money makers, show everyone.