I have the local butchers to thank for this disturbing window display, and although there’s no doubt they sell high welfare, delicious, grass fed lamb, I couldn’t help thinking that it’s probably recruiting any number of new vegans at the same time. The payback is probably a lot worse downstream. As a metaphor for the current state of politics in this country it also struck me as a perfect visual metaphor for a bunch of people who can’t tell their arse from their elbow – since they no longer have either.
And somehow it also reflects my state of mind which hovers somewhere between melancholy and catatonia as the great ship of state careens on to the rocks, with the entire crew below decks drinking the bar dry. Having a drink or three with friends on Wednesday night we rehearsed all the usual arguments about how we got to where we are. None of us voted for it or even thought of it as anything but a terrible idea. We skated a wary circuit of the thin ice in which we wondered whether it was such a good idea to take the lofty road and avoid confronting the Orks and we listed the contributory factors that add up to a whole world of woe. The engine flooded, the rudder fell off; the Bursar sold off the lifeboats to his mates and we mostly adopted the pose of Rodin’s thinker while the waves began to wash over the gunwales. Somehow the promises of a cruise to the Promised Land always felt slightly dodgy – the way the bloke in the ticket office quoted Plato as he promised endless upgrades and refused any eye contact. Buyers’ remorse ought to be setting in but we all know that you can’t make an ought into an is.
there is no path back to where we thought we were carefree and happy
Need I bore us all with the names of the contributors to this catastrophe? Of course not; “we have seen the enemy – it is us!” The one unalterable truth that we have been avoiding for fifty or more years is that notwithstanding all the warnings, statistics, data and tangible signs, there is no path back to where we thought we were carefree and happy. It’s no use sitting like the Israelites in the desert – sulking about the price of onions – because not a single one of our leaders appears to have any kind of plan except more of the same; more inequality, more poverty, more suffering, more pollution, more chemicals and more enemies. Like the cuppers and leeches of the past they keep telling us that if the last application of the medicine didn’t work we should repeat it until the patient recovers (vanishingly unlikely); or dies.
But there is an alternative, and that’s to imagine what sort of a different future might give us back carefree and happy lives. Of course the choristers of death in the photo will scream that there is no alternative and that even to talk about such a thing is seditious. They will employ their legions of trolls to drown out thoughtful debate and crush dissent – it doesn’t sound all that appealing does it? On the other hand, we don’t need to wait for any government’s permission to live full lives and to help our neighbours to live full lives too. Politics in its present form is too sclerotic and compromised to offer much hope but we shouldn’t turn our backs on the democratic ideal because – as even the deeply flawed Winston Churchill understood – ” ……. democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…’ The way to better government is to demand better politicians – even loudly demand it at the risk of offending the Home Secretary. Good governance is a lot like good gardening; a collaborative, sensitive, and loving relationship between all the life forms of this outrageously creative earth.