Friday, 22 May 2009


The other day, someone asked me my opinion on the MPs-expenses scandal which is currently providing journalists with something to write about in the UK.

Parliamentary politics is of limited interest to me these days (I did a degree in politics) but the question still got me thinking.

Basically, I have spent a lot of time being angry, disappointed, frustrated and outraged by the cruelty, greed and stupidity of a significant proportion of the human race. MPs often included.

All the injustice in the world can quite easily make one’s blood boil. Many people in the activist world see this kind of response as a good thing. Something to be encouraged. If more people got angry, then change would surely be demanded, and change would come. We get the government we deserve.

This may be true, but I’m fed up with feeling like that. And what’s more, I think that action born of such emotions is quite likely to end up causing as much damage as the damage I would be trying to combat. Men (and occasionally women) with visions of how the world should be are often dangerous. There’s a part of me that wants to be that man, but another part of me keeps it in check:

Look around
You’ll find the ground is not so far from where you are
Don’t be too wise.
(Nick Drake)

Plus, in reality I wouldn’t be combatting very much of it at all, even if I committed my entire life to the cause. So there’ll always be plenty for me to get wound up about.

Over the years I have come up with (or read) a number of thoughts on this issue.

The most controversial view, which I begrudgingly hold at the moment, despite my distrust of hierarchical models, is that of the existence of an evolutionary scale with regard to consciousness.

That is, that there is a hierarchy of consciousness and people are at different levels in that hierarchy. You can’t blame a dog for chasing cats or shitting on the street. That’s just where dogs are at. It doesn’t make a dog a bad person.

People’s ways of going about things are based on where they’re at. George Bush wants to own everything and blow people up. That’s his thing. He’s freaked out about the fragility of his own wellbeing and this is his response. I might try to stop him doing it but to be angry at him for not being like me is to miss the point.

Some MPs become MPs because they want a better world and they want to help to make that better world. And some MPs are fuckheads who I wouldn’t trust with a bag of chips, let alone the country. What can you do? (Note: these two groups are not mutually exclusive. I could draw a Venn diagram about it but hopefully you already get the picture).

In the end I always conclude that the only rational action is to develop one’s character and to invite other people to develop theirs. We can wipe out a Bush, a Hussein, a Thatcher, but there is always another one waiting to take their place. They’re like the cockroaches from Freak Brothers comics ("Don't worry! There's plenty more where they came from!")

Like old Bill Hicks (and a number of other mystics and existentialist writers) said, ‘It’s just a ride’. And his whole act was based on moral outrage!

To live in the flow of imperfection, humiliation and injustice is the only way. That’s where we’re at. You don’t have to add to it, but you can’t wipe it out either. You do what you can and find peace in the moment, because the moment is all there is.

And anyway, who really knows what’s going on with this universe? Why are we here? Maybe all this greed, cruelty and injustice is helping to keep it all in balance – preventing oblivion?

Probably not, but it’s worth considering.

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