Laughing to hold back the tears

It’s comical how so many politicians, journalists, social commentators, along with the ever growing tranche of so-called [mostly self-proclaimed] ‘influencers’ continually equate our current problems with the ethos that underpinned social efforts in 1939…Keep Calm & Carry On

I find that amusing because I suspect that in the main, there  is a limited likelihood that any of them have previously faced significant (or real) struggles. OK, I fully understand that the word ‘struggle’ is a subjective adjective and relative to a given situation but really… the greatest issue fueling the anxiety in many is still likely to be something along the lines of:-

We’ve got no wine to go with that steak in the fridge. Should we eat out tonight, assuming we can get a babysitter?

And yes I know, this flippant comment may well be seen as socially divisive and/or adversarial by some. However, after a lifetime of working in public service, across differing security, health care and social support functions I have learned; many people who scream the loudest, about their problems, are often the ones who actually need the least help. Conversely,  many who could benefit from a little help sometimes, often profess to be the least ‘needy’ and often, are almost accepting of their predicaments.

People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them.(Epictetus)

That said, the events and situations that we face in life can be unexpected and/or very difficult to deal with. Sometimes, we can find ourselves in situations that are (or at least appear to be), so complex. We constantly struggle with the many changing variables and as a consequence, we become overwhelmed.

Additionally, some situations can also border on farcical. There is no logic in what has occurred, or any apparent reasoning behind the difficulties we are facing, at least not that we are aware of, or sensible within our thinking.

Working towards developing any understanding of the circumstances, let alone making any ‘escape plan’ can be fraught with pitfalls and setbacks. An increasing cohort of people within our society experience reoccurring negativity, within a landscape of constantly changing and variable social circumstance. A lot of what is happening at the moment is enough to blow anyone’s mind, not least those who are financially or cognitively disadvantaged. What so many of the more affluent or well-heeled in our society fail to understand, because they have never experienced the issues, is; sometimes it’s almost impossible to plan any realistic exit strategy from the situation being endured.

That doesn’t mean people who are experiencing issues and difficulties don’t deserve better, far from  it. It also doesn’t mean that we can’t all benefit from a modicum of support sometimes, especially if we are trying to weather the latest squall in life’s weather. We all have and experience problems sometimes. But additionally, we all have the ability to support others, if or when that help is required. So, as we trudge through the increasing mire of problems remember – “keep calm and carry on” – sometimes that can be the only realistic and rational option left available to us.

There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will. (Epictetus)

The events and outcomes of recent years, such as the Trump Presidency, Brexit and now covid-19, have served to validate some of my life-long social observations. Sometimes life and humanity sucks. And worryingly, true community cohesion often only exists, if or when it serves to highlight personal ‘worth’ or promote the ‘work’ of the individual. But that said, there are still many people who are (thankfully) happy to serve others, before themselves.

It’s a poor state of affairs but also a common societal reality: real communities aren’t born from a society of [self-interested] individuals. Not unless those ‘individuals’ are able to fully accept, value and support all the remaining ‘individuals’ who live within the same society.

Too many people tend to put ‘self’ before community, until they actually need some help or support from other people. They fail to consider the impacts of their actions for the greater benefit of the society they live in, let alone try to understand how their behaviours may be damaging for humanity as a whole. That is also something which has (sadly) been regularly and clearly evidenced during this pandemic.

Some national policies, along with many of the subsequent personal responses to covid-19, have been developed around political and financial self-interest. Regardless of the spin about “listening to the science” or, fake-news claims espoused by people presiding over the free. Self-interest has been a key factor in many of the international, national and social impacts we have all been impacted by recently.

Sadly, as if things have not been difficult enough for so many and true to form, the MSM have excelled themselves, in commercial context. Continually stoking the flames of anxiety, fear within many and have built additional social division. The constant flow of insidious click-bait news, designed to manipulate facts, under incendiary and divisive headlines, have also been utilised by various politicians and social groupings. People who are trying to further personal benefits however, these stories are also kindling for the mental-health bonfire that is just getting started.

I find it ironic (and amusing in equal measures) that self-proclaimed ‘free-world’ leaders are often spawned from overt self-interest. Their constant pursuit of personal financial wealth, usually at the expense of everybody else, is a perverse outcome of ‘The American Dream’.
It’s an ethos that has grown exponentially over the decades, spreading (like COVID-19) across the Western World. American commercial interests and corporate globalism have long been the economic tail that is wagging the social dog.

The past empirical and arguably maniacal aspirations and actions of Trump, unstintingly inspired by his devoted (often unthinking) followers and monetary acolytes, have served to evidence many of my assumptions. And again arguably, have actually delivered even more negative impacts for world society.

The increasing social divide within our modern [western] world serves to place most real-life issues and impacts, way beyond any rational comprehension for a lot of people. Especially, the self-interested who are living in in the polar extremities of our communal existence.

Who knows, perhaps in the next few years – post Brexit, covid-19 and Trump – we might see some much-needed change? Maybe the negative impacts of recent years will finally put an end to these ‘social ills’? Most of which have come about due to the financial priorities of the few, rather than the majority?

Unfortunately, many fervent followers of money, who are constantly pursuing the next pot of gold at the end of their personal rainbow of self-interest, are also those people who lead our national administrations. They are the rain that is continually pissing down on the rest of us, from an ever darkening sky of storm clouds.

Yorkshire YodaThankfully, I like to believe, as with so many other aspects of life, these tumultuous shitstorms don’t last for ever. To be fair, I have found that this type of attitude, reinforced with a good measure of Stoicism, to be immensely helpful. I have found that it is the the best way to get through and past many of the issues that we face in life.

I might have been a little late to the “keep calm and carry on” party but, a lot of that is because… I mostly refuse to occupy my thinking and mind with stuff that is beyond my control. It’s not beneficial for our mental-health and personal wellbeing. Something that is so important for all of us, now perhaps more than ever before.

Regardless, I’m sure I’m not alone when I say, I really would like to see some better weather coming over the horizon, preverbally and physically and sometime soon. If all else fails, my cup is usually half full and I can still put ‘t’ kettle on… Amor Fati!Yorkshire Tea