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Thursday, July 18, 2024
EditorialsUpFront 06/19

UpFront 06/19

Seven months into a bout of Plantar Fasciitis and I have to admit to the occasional sense of humour failure. One foot screams at me to stop using it, and the other complains about having to do all the work. I’m used to aches and pains, but now the aches feel like a fading memory. It’s a little like a metaphor for the world around me. As the human race becomes more tribal and politics more polarised, it’s hard not to feel despair. After thousands of years of developing incredible levels of sophistication: becoming the dominant animal on earth, learning to communicate despite speaking different languages and discovering that the general aches caused by living with empathy and compassion are better than the pain of constant conflict, we appear to be determined to go back into the caves to sharpen our spears. There was a time when great leaders brought people together. Today there seems to be a blind attraction to those who see a good argument, take a side and stir up conflicting viewpoints to make themselves feel important when what we need are leaders who can find middle ground and communicate levels of common purpose. The latest BBC drama, Years and Years, takes a fanciful guess at some of the possible levels of madness that might develop from where we are now. They include a US nuclear attack on China; the fall of the second largest investment bank in America, and an ‘oh so sincere’ UK celebrity turned politician who wows her audience with a magic pen that cuts out all internet signal in the room (yes every dinner table should have one). The show goes on for a few more episodes, so who knows what the outcome might be, but in one striking moment a political activist, returning to the UK after an extended stay overseas, is surprised at how interested people are in a local by-election. ‘Nobody used to care about by-elections’ she says. ‘Yea, we’re all bloody furious now’ replies her sister. When asked what about, she simply replies, ‘Everything!’ Realising that polarisation, tribalism or populism—call it what you want—has no long term benefit for this planet is not rocket science. Some might describe the current world upheaval in political manoeuvring as one of history’s ‘market adjustments’, but that’s no different to closing your eyes, putting your fingers in your ears and shouting ‘blah, blah, blah’ while the world falls apart around you. Polar opposites will only win votes from polar opposites, and that’s a pointless exercise. There, that’s my sense of humour failure done for today—bloody foot…

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