THE ERICLE (A)MUSE LETTER
In my last blog-entry of 2021, I made a New Year’s Resolution to say less and cycle more. The proverbial road to Hell is paved with good intentions but for the immediate future, unless I feel that I can not contain myself, The Ericle will appear only on a monthly basis. As for the cycling, I have got off to a very good start; aided by an unseasonably dry January, I am happy to report the following metrics for the month:
Cycled: 243.30 miles, (ahead of target by 71.57 miles)
Number of Days cycled: 19 Average Distance per Ride: 12.81 miles
Money Raised for Macmillan Cancer so far: £1273.00 (Donations Page: here)
I am most indebted to My Esteemed Reader from Finchley Central for these metrics and for the all-singing/all-dancing spreadsheet that he created for me.
Demographic age-imbalance is, I feel, one of the key factors behind the state of the world that we currently find ourselves in. As a result, the Younger Generation have become alienated from the political processes and are not as fully engaged with them, as they could and should be. My children – about to become 30 & 32 – strongly dispute this and point to the causes they espouse and have supported. To be fair, my daughter does work for Greenpeace, whose activities are much more that headline-snatching ‘ops’ for which the brand is majorly known; while her partner is employed by Collective Voice (see: here), an organisation whose remit is to influence policy makers in the areas of drug and alcohol dependancy. Meanwhile The Prodigal One, on the other side of The Pebble, is a Producer in the employ of a major NZ documentary filmmaker who has tackled some major national social issues in that country. I am proud of them, and the career choices they have made, but still lock horns with them on the question of how practical change actually comes about. Sadly, IMHO, the younger generations tend to espouse and agitate for causes but do not have an appetite for active engagement with the cut-and-thrust of national political debate. In my books, ‘active engagement’ has to be more than being critical; it has to involve a preparedness to take a participatory, even executive, part. I just don’t see this happening and this is contributing to our current state of political and social stagnation. (I leave it my Readers to provide their own adjectival descriptors!)
As a member of the ‘Older Generation’, I take my share of responsibility for the state of the present world. This is not meant to be a ‘mea culpa‘ – though lawd-knows we have not made the best of our inheritance – but rather that we have had our turn and now we need to begin to step aside and let some fresh thinking & agenda come to the fore. Perhaps this would have come about as a result of a more ‘normal’ population distribution than that we currently we have, which came about as a result of the post-WW2 birthrate that considerably exceeded the live birth rate of 2.1 per 1000 women required to achieve a static population. However, the undeniable fact is that my generation holds far too great a sway in how things are today, leaving a conviction among our Youngers that their voice does not impact on the national political conversation. The Brexit vote, in which they did participate in numbers and were frustrated, provided the strongest affirmation for them of this.
The above remarks dovetail into my oft-repeated assertion that we get the government we deserve. If the young aren’t engaged with national politics then it reflects not only on them, but also on those who outshout them; commensurately on the kind of society that we live in and the institutions we chose to live with. With the UK currently in the grip of a political stasis of a Prime Minister who should resign but won’t, these issues are brought into sharp focus. John Adams, the USA’s 2nd President and one of the ‘Founding Fathers’, made the following 2 remarks:
“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
“Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right … and a desire to know.”
At first glance, these remarks seem to be coming from opposing directions but actually they are mutually self-supporting. Institutions are framed by the times that create them and, as John Adams asserts, they will inevitably fail us over time. However, Adams offers redemption from this via his 2nd quote; the key words being “people … who have a desire to know.” Our UK institutions which have served us very well over time, like our drains, need to be renewed and brought up-to-date. This is not going to happen by itself. The Moggy, for reasons unrelated to a desire for long term constitutional change, this week stated that we now have a ‘presidential’ political system in the UK. He is right. He is right because the underpinning of the unwritten constitution by a sense of fairness went out the window long before The Maggie rode her coach & horses through the system in order to force her way on things. Bemoaning Thatcherism or berating Big Bad Boris is truly a case of ‘missing the forest for the trees’. This speaks volumes for our society, which is more concerned with the cult of personality, than for the health of the whole. I would also suggest that this reflects on us as individuals who have a decreasing appetite for a social agenda, as we disappear down the rabbit hole of self-entitled individualism. In 1960, in his inaugural address, JFK famously said: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country’. Some 60 years later, we would do well to heed his chiastic admonition.