This Sunday, May 10
th, is my 80 th birthday, but being so old hasn’t fully dawned on me yet: the psyche likes to pretend it will endure for ever. In normal circumstances, there would be a restaurant lunch party for about 20 friends and family; individual conversations with each person, I would enjoy – but everyone together is too much for me these days: lockdown has rescued me.For our society/economy to function well, its three separate ‘systems’ need to be kept in balance: the private, the public and the third or community sectors; I reflected this week that I’ve worked in each. I left school at 15 for the family business (chip shop) – spent subsequent years in the private sector – but never convinced of the ‘primacy’ of money, it was an ill-fit. The idea of ‘public service’ appealed – so I tried Local Govt. – the bureaucracy and paternalism wasn’t my vibe. It was only when I became a community worker, that I felt I’d arrived where I belong; alongside local communities – strengthening democracy from the bottom up – being part of ‘empowerment’ is a special privilege. I came to love my work – for fifty years.At the end of June (8 more bulletins) I’m leaving Senscot as it morphs into a new entity with Social Firms Scotland; this exciting ‘risorgimento’ deserves a clean start – removed from my weekly slaverings. So I’m looking for a new site to host my blog – one with compatible interests and values – and I invite readers’ suggestions ( firstname.lastname@example.org). I wonder if this is my psyche pretending it will endure for ever.
The New Statesman carried a
major article this week, where 12 top economists warn the UK not to revert to austerity after the Covid 19 crisis. There are essential community needs – transport, health, education, social housing – which should never be run down; rather, artificial borrowing rules should be scrapped. A shorter piece in The Conversation, proposes that a one-off tax on wealth, may prove the fairest way of paying down the UK cost of the pandemic (a predicted £273 billion by the end of 2020). I always gave Thomas Piketty’s call for a wealth tax little chance – but we now need to learn to unlearn previous assumptions.
Where I live, there has been a marked increase in voluntary efforts to support citizen’s urgent needs; solidarity rather than charity – ‘In crisis, social capital rises.’
Caitlin Logan in Bella Caledonia takes a look at six mutual aid and support programmes across Scotland which typify the increased activity.
Alan Rusbridger was 20 years editor of the Guardian; he regards the current crisis as a
decisive moment on how citizens think of mainstream news: “It was only a couple of months ago that Boris Johnson’s key advisers were pushing to replace the BBC with Fox News equivalents.” Democracy under threat.
About 4.2 billion people (54% of the global population) were in lockdown at the end of April; this reduced CO2 emissions to levels of 10 years ago. Past crises led to immediate rebounds of CO2 emissions – will we do it differently this time, cleaner energy –
this is the story in data from Yes Magazine.
The latest Wellbeing Survey confirms that we sense all around us
high levels of anxiety in the general population; the most widespread reason is probably the direct effect of the boredom and loneliness of lockdown. An interesting statistical survey of how people react, has identified three main clusters within the population which they call – the Accepting; the Suffering; and the Resisting.
In the same way that one really has to accept the weather, one has to accept how one feels about life sometimes, “Today is a really crap day,” is a perfectly realistic approach. It’s all about finding a kind of mental umbrella. “Hey-ho, it’s raining inside; it isn’t my fault and there’s nothing I can do about it, but sit it out. But the sun may well come out tomorrow, and when it does I shall take full advantage.” – Stephen Fry.
“The largest part of what we call ‘personality’ is determined by how we’ve opted to defend ourselves against anxiety and sadness.” – Alain de Botton.