The Mind in Flight

It is three o’clock in the morning.  I sit at my desk, the white screen of my monitor glaring at me defiantly, lost in the silence.

There are so few moments like these, when the world around me is sleeping and I am not;  when the eastern horizon is still black and the landborne stars of streetlights are my only witnesses.   At such times I am free – truly free – without the need of speech, without the relentless city burr, without the determination of the media to fill every pocket of the universe with lighted sound.   My mind can do the travelling, and it does.

Tonight, long after a septuagenarian such as I should be tucked up in bed with a memory of Horlicks, I can take flight.  A single thought occurs, maybe inspires?  It is this:

Somewhere at this precise moment, at this very second, a new life is coming into the world, taking a first breath.  At this same moment another is leaving,taking their last.  Somewhere in an impact far beyond my fluffy hearing an injury is changing a life irreparably, while in some other place someone who was told they would never walk again is taking a first step.

Out there is a young man nervous for his future, feeling the gentle touch of a hand on his which says he need not be afraid; while out there, too, a solitary tear is falling from the cheek of one who sees their life’s love broken.  A million games of win and lose are being played, a billion dice cast at this very second.   Now.   Again now.  And now.

To someone whose eyes behold the rope, the chair; who sought to drink into numbness the pain beyond forgetting, or to those on that lonely walk home from rejection, those smarting from their first rebuff, or out on the streets gripping the knife of revenge, I can say nothing.  I cannot ever know if you changed your mind.  I can neither comfort nor discourage you.

But you exist for me.   I have imagined you, or somehow reached out for you, in this moment; and that is the miracle of life we all should cherish.   This huge complexity of chance, and consequence, disaster and triumph, that in some sense we all may touch.   Now.  Again now; and now, until the end of time.

To Extinction Rebellion

With gratitude for placing the poor people of our cities under even greater stress, and for your relentless efforts in alienating the rest of us to the entire concept of climate change.

Can you take comfort, when you exercise in synthetic clothes, drink from plastic bottles instead of the tap, when you drive a car the battery of which is a disposability nightmare akin to that of nuclear waste, in the unwelcome truth that your contribution to ‘saving the planet’ is approximately zero?

Yes you can.

Please, recognise two simple, fundamental truths.

The sun is getting hotter.  There is nothing we can do about this, it is just a fact. 

There are too many people.  We can do something about this; we can say “miss out a generation”.  We can, but we won’t.  Think of the clamour!  The weeping protests!  The gnashing of teeth!  (I always fancied a bit of teeth gnashing – never tried it).  

We can recycle, we can:

  • Reduce our dependency on fossil fuels,
  • Harness the power of the wind (goodness knows we’ll get enough of it in the next ten years)
  • Empty our Jacuzzis and our hot tubs,
  • Stop wearing our clothes with once and throw away extravagance
  • Control our fetish for foreign travel,
  • Stop making unnecessary journeys
  • Retire to our energy-neutral pods. 

We can, and should, exploit the extra heat that is coming our way and re-deploy it:  after all, exploitation is something we’re good at.

But the bottom line is, my friends, we are a frail species when it comes to dealing with stuff like this.  

The megalomaniacs will still seek to take control, to conquer; the ‘not-what-you-know-but-who-you-know closet class will still fill the vital positions of management and mismanage them, the rabble-rousers will stir up insurrection when we should all be working as one, and the religionists will do much the same.

“Not my god’s fault, bro.   We kept telling you, didn’t we?  Your god should have listened!”

Personally, do I think our species will be wiped out? 

No.   We have reached a hiatus, that’s all; a much greater one, I think, than most of us understand.  Some of us will survive, just as the crocodile survived the extinction of the dinosaurs.  And if the planet has not been enveloped by the sun as a red giant, perhaps the ornithologists of fifty thousand years hence will be able to point out that we were probably warm-blooded and had feathers.

So this is my recommendation:  live life as though tomorrow is The Big Day.  

Do the sensible things like recycling; prefer natural fibres and wear clothes for longer, eliminate plastics as much as you can, perhaps travel a little less.   But beware of exploitation, because your fear is a fat contract that pressure groups and governments will seek to finance from your pockets, not always – in fact very rarely – with beneficial results.

The first rule for survival is – Be Wise.  

I Don’t Often Comment on American Affairs, But…

I do have to say this:

President Joe Biden is too old.

I say it in a non-political way, because I have previously been advised that I don’t know enough about American politics, and I have no wish to offend those who do, but can a man who apparently gets lost on his way to the end of a sentence be competent to conduct the orderly withdrawal of forces from a remote tribal hunting ground like Afghanistan?

President Biden was born in November 1942.   In November this year he will be 79.   Just in case you think I am making a political argument, can I also point out that his most likely rival in the last race for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders, is also 79.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump is 75.

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives (have I got that right?) is 81.

Nancy Pelosil.

As a quick comparison, I offer Boris Johnson (UK Prime Minister) at 57, Emmanuel Macron (French President) at 43, Angela Merkel (Retiring German Chancellor) at 67, Vladimir Putin 68, and Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, 49 (I know, he dyes his hair).

Boris Johnson

There are things I would like to know, as a small cog in this giant wheel of the ‘Free World’ and my reason for wanting this knowledge is vested interest:  I want my children to stay alive.

emmanuel Macron

In total, how many grams of statins, Bisoprolol, Irbesartan, Rivaroxiban, Fuorosimide or similar are required daily to keep these extravagantly senior politicians functioning?

Angela Merkel

Is there some controlled environment solution for their rest periods, those times when they are away from the public eye (I understand about three days is the average)?  I think back to Michael Jackson, although he was much younger, of course.

Who really pulls the strings?  You see, I can’t believe it is the will of the American people that they should be represented by geriatric wealth magnets who presumably accumulated their fortunes by leeching off them for generations.  The job of President does not seem to be a sinecure, therefore unless you believe its incumbent is fully capable, somebody is doing the work.   If I were the American voter, I would feel entitled to know who that is (or ‘they are’ – see how conspiracy theories can grow?).

Justin Trudeau

It would be disappointing to discover that the cut and run from Afghanistan without regard for the lives it would waste or the pleas of allies it would ignore was truly at the centre of American thought.  It would be preferable, and more plausible, to believe the shambles of withdrawal was at the behest of a congenial old man who, if you discovered him loitering and confused on your doorstep, the charity in you would demand you call the Nursing Home, at the very least.  Will you extend that charity, though, when you have it in your power to reconcile him to a contented old age and keep him away from the nuclear button?

There are so many challenges to this generation – so many pivotal issues.  The balance of superiority is poised to topple towards the East, and there are those of us who do not wish that to happen.   Climate change, internal strife and ‘human rights’ in all their various guises are not restraints that inhibit the ambitions of the Chinese, the Iranians, the newly-emergent Russians.  South America will spill over, not matter how hard or high we build the walls.

In this humble British view, America needs to rediscover the dynamism and vitality of those in middle years who have wisdom enough but also energy enough to recognise and manage change.  Has the political class of whatever colour so fortified itself against the needs of its people that it can’t be questioned or allow its structure to be examined?

Ever since the inception of the nuclear solution it has been hanging there, increasingly accessible to more and more primitive people.  No-one has yet introduced the final spark.  Isolation and confrontation are the flints ready to strike, yet I tend to follow the notion that the trigger to the fatal conflagration will be more likely a tragic accident – a hand in panic, or a mind not fully engaged.

These are very dangerous times.

© Frederick Anderson 2021.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Frederick Anderson with specific direction to the original content.