Every day for what seems forever, but probably only since 2013, I have told myself that things can’t get any worse and almost every day I have gone to bed disappointed. There have been moments of cheer, but in reality the up sections of the roller-coaster ride have been smaller than the descents. The trend has been remorselessly down and the narcissists are in charge of the asylum.
Not in my private life. I retired in 2017 and now spend most of my time pottering around in my garden. Even the Coronavirus lockdown barely affects me on a day to day basis. It’s merely a bit inconvenient and, unless it goes on for many more months, my savings should cover the shortfall in household income. Not nice, but much better than for many, if not most. On a personal level I have nothing to complain about. I’m probably as happy now in my private life as at any time.
As my garden has started to take shape, my world has been falling apart
It’s tempting to cut myself off from the outside world; bury my head in my gardening with nothing more to worry about than rust on my garlic plants and mildew on my sqashes; enjoy the Spring sunshine, watch the birds and draw inspiration from the sights, sounds and smells of the surrounding country side; to pretend that nothing going on in the wider world out there will affect me.
I’ve tried. But being comfortable with a quiet, semi-solitary life isn’t the same as being a loner, independent, disconnected or untouched by others; shared humanity and a feeling of common cause are important to me. So I listen to the news, read the papers, scan my Twitter feeds and join campaign group meetings online.
As my garden has started to take shape, my world has been falling apart. Or rather it has been deliberately broken apart by the narcissists in charge and I am still at a loss to understand how it has been allowed to happen.
They needed to win over voters whose interests they do not serve
The world has problems: climate change, inequality, wars and natural disasters, but I had allowed myself to believe that, although slowly and inadequately, we were beginning to address the problems; that however much frustration and disagreement hindered the progress, peoples and nations were tending to come together, increasing international co-operation to solve the shared problems of humanity.
Until about ten years ago I took for granted that the direction of travel was towards a better world. A world in which “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”; where democracies protect basic human rights, where hard won civil rights are upheld or, for those still experiencing discrimination, improved, and where economic safety nets are provided for those falling on hard times.
But the power hungry, narcissist, self serving politicians and the self-entitled mega rich who fund them worried that greater equality and more rights for all would reduce their profits. To stay in control (or to take back control) they needed to win over and retain voters whose interests they did not serve, those whom they needed to exploit to increase their own share of the wealth still further. They used the time old method of persuading those the people they were failing to focus their anger on each other, to foment division, create scapegoats and divert attention from themselves.
And so we got Modi and Trump, Johnson by way of Brexit and Bolsonaro with their divisive policies, dog whistle rhetoric, incompetent administration and contempt for international relationships, but most of all contempt for the people who voted for them.
Cracks of light are beginning to break through
Johnson hasn’t quite resorted to “Let them eat cake”, but he clearly thinks we can draw sustenance from slogans and his assurances that everything will be fine by Christmas. He doesn’t appear to have learned from the “just testing his eyesight” Cummings affair and now his popularity is waning, if not collapsing. Maybe we’re getting close to the end of our own yellow brick road and the curtain is about to be pulled from around him.
Every night I still go to bed hoping it can’t get any worse, although I’m sure it will, but the cracks of light are beginning to break through. I pray that they will develop into a new dawn.