BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES
With the prospect of setting fire to the furniture this winter in order to keep warm, the above quote from Tom Wolfe’s masterpiece comes readily to mind. Not that this world has ever been a sane place but, more than ever these days, it feels that I’m residing within the confines of a lunatic asylum. As we continue to demonise Russia at a cost to our existential well-being, surely we should be more questioning of those who are calling the shots on our side of the asylum, as to their direction of travel. It seems to me that within a very short period of time we have rewritten all that came before and have allowed ourselves to become hell-bent on an agenda of ‘victory’. If not for reasonable then selfish reasons, should we not be exploring all possibilities for pragmatic compromise? “Ah but you can’t talk compromise with a chap like Putin” is the retort I have frequently received when airing such opinions. Putin is not Hitler, Ukraine is not Czechoslovakia and talking with the Russians would not be Munich.
I have frequently bemoaned, via The Ericle, the absence of nuance in contemporary conversation. I fully expect that there will be those who will see my above point as ‘cowardly’ and ‘wrong’ and even some who won’t be reading this, having cast aside my blog in disgust. But if you are still with me, thank you. I am not saying that we should be capitulating to Putin, rather questioning as to why, in such a relatively short period of time, we have placed ourselves on a ‘war footing’ and with possibilities for finding compromises mostly absent from open conversation. Hopefully M. Macron & others are conducting some back channel contact, but the fact that pursuit for peaceful conclusions is not part of the public agenda speaks loudly of the vanities that are afoot in these times. For it is indeed surely part of the definition of ‘vanity’ to only see the world through one’s own lens and to deny the rights of others to their viewpoints alongside our own. Moreover, is it not a trait of ‘madness’ to take this process a stage further via the retooling of narrative – present and historical – in order to fit in with one’s own viewpoints and to justify one’s own actions, viz. Russian connections with the East Ukraine region, fear of NATO, fighting right-wing militia in The Donbas, Western interference in Ukraine politics etc.
I have been truly shocked to witness the speed with which ‘Ukraine news’ has become propagandised within even well-regarded news channels. The above story, which appeared in The Times in August, completely omitted what Mick Lynch said on Times Radio (its own radio channel) before stating an opinion akin to my own, namely: “We don’t support Russia. Russia has taken aggressive action against Ukraine. They have no right to be there. The Ukrainian people have the right to their national sovereignty and freedom of expression and to create a society that they want. What Russia needs to do now, to be clear, is cease fire and to get out of The Ukraine and allow the Ukrainian people to have their national sovereignty. That is the position of my union and it’s my position personally”. How is The Times’ headline and accompanying story justified in the light of those words? Quite simply, they’re not. Why does The Times feel that can ride rough-shod over Mick Lynch in such a way? Quite simply, because it suits them and sadly it knows that it suits the vast majority of us, as well.
Perhaps there is nothing new in all this. Possibly this is what happens cyclically within societies. Empires rise and decline; and as part of their decline they grow rotten within. The problem for us is that our interdependency is such that local fires seem to be leading us towards a global conflagration. The question we need to be asking is whether the vanity, which is preventing us from pursuing peaceful alternatives, is really worth burning down the house for.
Talking about ‘vanity’, for reasons that are somewhat beyond me, this coming Monday, HGS University Of The Third Age will be interviewing me online via Zoom:
In Conversation: Monday 5 September 6.00 pm
Our guest this month will be Eric Wilton, who runs two of our groups: a monthly Friday morning reading group and our very popular cycling group
If you are so minded to tune in, I am informed that you’d be most welcome – even encouraged via this link here. (Meeting ID: 818 5521 3547 Passcode: 725178)
2022 Miles in 2022 Cycling Challenge
The winner of the auction for the above handsome, and clearly desirable, item of headwear is my over-generous reader from Zanesville Ohio, whose bid of $200 trumped all others.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH, JACK!
August was a productive cycling month but it could have been even better had the weather on the Island of Skye been more like that experienced by most of the rest of the country. Skye’s micro-climate is extraordinary – it poured for almost the whole of the week! (Below is a picture taken on the one day that it was not raining.) In spite of Skye, for all practical purposes, I have recouped the shortfall created by my bout of Covid and rib fracture. Now, I need to make good use of the hopefully benign climes of September & October!
METRICS TO END-AUGUST
Cycled in August : 12 Rides/217.60 miles
TOTAL MILES : 1343.51 miles. (Behind target by 2.64 miles).
Number of Days cycled: 84. Average Distance per Ride: 16.08 miles.
MILES TO GO: 678.49
Money Raised for Macmillan Cancer so far: £1513.00.
Money NEEDED* to Reach Target: £509.00 (Donations Page: here)