As I approach the twilight years of my brief existence in this world, I’m often reminded of some stock guidance offered to me during the formative years of my childhood by my mother… “Don’t wish your life away, it will come to the end far sooner than you expect.”
I was prompted to bash the keyboard again today after two separate but partly related incidents this morning. The first mostly innocuous event was a Twitter exchange and the second, was due to people watching whilst queuing for my morning caffeine fix at the local Costa Coffee shop – other brands are available! 🙂
The Twitter stuff was remarks about UK party politics and began with Peter Kirkham saying; “Vote anyone & you’ll end up with a lying bastard who’ll act for Party benefit first & vested interest benefit second.” I replied with; “Sad state of affairs but appears increasingly more true…indicative of predominantly self-centred society!” Peter went on to suggest that our ‘self-centred’ society found it’s roots in the 1980s – “A self-centred society that Maggie set the foundation for.” Some would say that both our comments and opinions are born out of pure cynicism, but are they? Partly as an aside, I for one would suggest that the ‘rot’ actually set in far earlier even than Peter suggests.
As I get ever older I find it far easier to fully understand and comprehend that ‘grumpy old git’ tag, the one which is often applied by the younger end of our society, to many of us who have been lucky enough to attain that ‘certain’ age. It’s all part of that commonly held belief that the young know better (and far more) than their elders, but do they?
It’s also part of that ‘live in the here and now’ ethos, forget the past and bollocks to the future! All in a poor indictment of society’s (mistaken) educational belief that ‘history’ is mostly irrelevant in a modern world. Save perhaps for the puerile PC platitudinous public apologies for historic events. But, without an understanding and cognisance of history, or real (as opposed to virtual) life, aren’t we always destined to make the same mistakes, over and over again?
I don’t know about you but I can clearly remember the childhood occasions when, because there was something I wanted to do or try, I was told “sorry, you’re not old enough, yet.” My indignant reply along the lines of “it’s so unfair, I wish I was older” quickly uttered forth. Only to be rebutted just as promptly by the ‘parental guidance‘ above. Looking back now, despite my minor disdain and sometimes even rebelliousness at the time, I’m actually mostly thankful that I acquiesced to those words of ‘time served’ wisdom. This brings me on to my second incident of the day.
As I’m waiting for my coffee to be made I’m joined in the que by a gaggle of young girls. Each one had undoubtedly engaged in hours of careful preparation at home, prior to joining their peers in facing the outside world. Pristine make-up, not a hair out-of-place and accessorised to the hilt with faux designer labels and accoutrements. Each hauling massive bling handbags and fearfully clutching their latest smartphone, each one complete with its own shocking pink protective cover. ‘Ladies wot Lunch’ preparing to discuss the inane and unimportant ‘celebrity’ gossip of the day… probably just like their mothers!
Now I have no great issue with that particular set of circumstances per se, whatever floats their particular boat, so to speak. It was more about the ‘people watching’ experience, as opposed to forming any opinion on the rights and wrongs of what they were doing. The part that I found most interesting was the simple fact that, despite purporting to be ‘adults’ in many more ways than one, each one of those girls could have been no more than twelve years of age, if they were a day. Girls that twenty to thirty or so years ago would probably (hopefully) have been at home, playing with their doll’s house or learning to bake cakes with their mum.
Today they are ‘on the town’ and ‘in your face’ loud, brash and anything but demure or pleasantly innocent. Hankering after the day when they can get a good dose of alcohol down their necks in the local boozer, as opposed to sharing one coffee between two due to limited funds. Incessantly catching up on the latest ‘sexting’ events and provocative ‘selfie’ examples, prior to going back to the ‘normality’ of the childhood experiences of school uniform and more formal education the following day.
I expect many the boys of a similar age are out playing Sunday league football, that or sat on a park bench swigging from a tin of strong cider. Ah well, they could have all been engrossed in a flashmob entanglement of Roman Orgy proportions, ‘getting down and dirty’ with the procreation of our next generation of ‘Entitled Yooof’ init. Perhaps, as ever, we should be grateful for small mercies!
My own, usually simple satisfaction with life for what I have/have not, actually finds its roots in my learned behaviours and first-hand life experiences. Firstly it’s owed to the attitudes and raison d’être for life displayed by my parents. I grew and matured under the protective umbrella of people who had experienced the real dangers of world wars, that and the true hardships of post war Britain.
Secondly, I’ve observed the ethics and attitudes of people who are, or have been in far worse off financial situations than I have. I have seen the true poverty and the violence and abuse experienced by others. I have spent a lifetime impacted by the worst in our society but importantly, I’ve also spent a large proportion of my meagre life always endeavouring to do any small part I can that hopefully, relieves some of that suffering in others… What have you done to make you feel proud?
Finally, I’ve also managed to narrowly escape death in a road accident, thankfully. Trust me, there’s nothing like a ‘near death’ experience to galvanise your opinion of what is/is not important in life. It also provides you with a 20/20 vision capability when focusing upon reality!
Many of the ‘problems’ which we tend to endure in today’s society, be they evidenced or perceived, are in my opinion, born out of ‘learned’ behaviour…a kind of Monkey-See-Monkey-Do learning process.
That and a total lack of historical interest or understanding, social or otherwise. The problem arises when that particular ‘source’ of learning doesn’t actually meet expected or desired standards.
However, some of the ‘free thinkers’ in life would also suggest that any ‘learned’ behaviour process, especially if ‘intentionally’ imparted during a parenting situation, is also a form of invasive cognitive modeling or even covert predictive programming.
Predictive Programming – The power of suggestion using the media of fiction to create a desired outcome ~Alan Watts
Is that actually such a bad thing, if those teachings and standards in the ‘learned behaviour’ process were (intentionally or accidentally) designed to impart some enhanced levels of humanity and civility in the subject?
In a way it really matters not which way you perceive those parenting skills, just so long as some are actually utilised and applied in the first place. Hopefully by people with the kind of ethical views on life which benefit society as a whole. But even proverbial Wise Monkeys can often be perceived in different ways.
I’m thankful that my ‘learned behaviour’ taught me how to enjoy a beer responsibly, with reasonable levels of sobriety and with minimal impact upon others. I’m thankful that my mother’s house keeping and domestic skills tought me to eat correctly, healthily and within a budget. I’m thankful for those simple little sayings such as “I want never gets” and “treat as you would be treated.”
Who knows, being the eternal optimist, perhaps the current levels of increasing poverty caused by austerity, along with greater levels of personal experiences of danger and physical hardship (floods/weather), it could all bode well for the development of future generations?
Given that all too prominent and short-term ‘Monkey See – Monkey Do‘ ethos for life, I somehow doubt it.