I received a very kind Twitter message from My Kind Reader* enquiring as to my well-being, as they had not heard from The Ericle for awhile. I assured them that I was summering well but feel that I am blogged-out on all matters political; moreover that I have really nothing more to add currently on the political front – namely, that:

  • the elevation of Donald Trump reflects a retrograde American mindset that is taking the world to some very dark places. The fact that he is a loathsome character is a sideshow.
  • I now regret that the UK will leave the EU, especially in the light of the above. I, however, remain optimistic as to the outcomes and can conceive of scenarios whereby Brexit could benefit both Europe & the UK
  • UK politics is in a parlous state. I don’t regret my initial support for Corbyn, as he is a man of principle. Sadly he is not a man for compromise nor a leader.  The Ericle, who has re-joined the LibDems, had hoped for a Grand Centre-Left Coalition, (Labour, LibDems & Scot Nats) from the 2017 election. If only Nicola Sturgeon hadn’t misplayed the Scottish referendum card it could have been so different.
  • the engagement of younger voters in national politics in the last UK election is a rare ray of hope for the political future. One swallow, however, doesn’t make a political spring. Their involvement must be more than a mere protest vote; the world needs future generations to be active participants not voices from the sidelines.

Ericle watchers will know that he attended a Buddhist festival this summer; his third in the last 4 years. On the surface of it, this activity suggests itself to be a withdrawal from the thrusts and cuts of everyday life. And indeed it is, at the primary level, given Buddhist beliefs in the immortality of the transient soul and the impermanence of all physical matter. However, as my wise Buddhist teacher enunciated, it is surely true that a world where people see that others’ happiness as consequential to one’s own would not find itself in the mess that it is in today. Is not the major problem the world faces today precisely born from the widespread absence of minds that don’t find a significant place for the needs and desires of others?

It has often been pointed out that Margaret Thatcher’s claim that “there is no such thing as society” was a prescient epitaph of what was to come. And, to some extent it was. However it is worth revisiting these words within the context, (an article in Women’s Own magazine of October 1987), within which her words were spoken:

I think we’ve been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it’s the government’s job to cope with it. ‘I have a problem, I’ll get a grant.’ ‘I’m homeless, the government must house me.’ They’re casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There’s no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.

As a political statement, as to the proportion of GDP is to be given over to social welfare, it is very clear. I am particularly taken by the last bit: “it is our duty… also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind…There’s no such thing as entitlement unless someone has first net an obligation”.  Maggie was, of course, referring to a presumed sense of entitlement felt by the under-privileged. It is, thus, a supreme irony that the cancer running rife in our society today is the sense of entitlement felt by all – well if not ‘all’ then the not-so-silent majority of us. Put plainly, we have become a society of self-centred, mouthy, people who spend little or no time considering the viewpoints and needs of others while pouring scorn on those whose views not match those of our own.

My teacher’s claim this summer, that with a modicum of Buddhist thinking most of the world’s problems would be solved, is surely worthy of some consideration?

 

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* NOTE TO SELF: When I started The Ericle in 2012, it was my intention that I should not become a hostage to it and that the blog should be quite eclectic, including being a suppository (sic!) for elements of my personal history. I realise now how bogged down (sic! again) of late it has become with matters political. As they say in Buddhist circles, I need to make a ‘personal intention’ to return to my original brief. My Reader then may be hearing more from me in the future, but as they say: “Take care for what you wish for”!

 

 

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