In Search of My Father 2017 Writing Project

In Search of My Father 2017 Writing Project
In Search of My Father, 2017 writing project supported by The National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

SUCKING THE JOY OUT OF LIFE

What a strange era we live in.  It is an era of guilt, worry and fear. It is an age personified by the Eeyore news presentation of people like Huw Edwards and others.  There seems to be (at least to this viewer) a kind of enjoyment in delivering news in a droll, downbeat fashion (furrowed brow essential, as is an occasional shake of the head or a desperate glance away from the camera).  The overuse of the 'breaking news' banner on TV screens just adds to that sit-up-and-take-notice angst that we are subjected to whether or not the news story breaking is important.

Radio phone-in shows just stir the pot and add to the problem rather than making much effort to ease minds about whatever topics of the day are deemed worthy of airtime.

Looking at the front pages of daily newspapers over a period of time suggests that, unless there is a big national or international story that captures the collective attention of editors and readers, there are diverse headlines about all sorts of stuff from celebrity boo-hoo stories to weather warnings to campaigns for whatever to a member of the Royal family sneezing without a hankie in sight.

Politics, media and business have always latched on to the guilt, worry and fear bandwagons to influence, persuade and convince people to part with their votes, their loyalties and, of course, their money.

We are now cursed with an avalanche of TV and gadget channels and, if you watch them long enough or regularly, there is a bombardment of advertisements about charitable causes, insurance, health, finances, etc that wave guilt, worry and fear in front of us along with, of course, product and conscience solutions that we must buy or sign up to or else we may as well get on the road to hell and final damnation.

Politicians love the guilt/worry/fear tactic because it is their job to change behaviour and shackle everybody to their ways of thinking.  Their job is not to serve the electorate (only important in the run-up to elections) but to do whatever they like once in power.  If you listen carefully enough in the days after a General Election, you can hear shredding machines sucking Rennies and burping because of indigestion from gorging on useless manifestos.

This is an era when the powerful and influential combine to suck all the joy out of life by ensuring through relentless drip-drip-drip brainwashing that we feel guilty, that we worry and that we fear for our lives, livelihoods and loved ones every day.

I am reminded of a couple of things. Go to YouTube and look up a clip from the film Network starring Peter Finch who plays a newsman pushed to the edge, urging us to stick our heads out the window and yell: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." Incidentally, Network came out in 1976, so guilt, worry and fear are not new.

There is a book, published in the 1950s, called The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard. Look it up. It is more relevant today that it was back then.  Today, the persuaders are not hidden. They are out in the open and in our faces.

And then there is the depressing sight of UK politicians at their grubbiest and deceitful in the EU referendum campaigns, lying, threatening, bitching, and showing politicians really are hustlers out to con their way to victory and power - and most of these horrible specimens walk away rather than help clear up the mess they've made .

And then, and then (gas and air), we have even worse politics as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton square up to each other in America's most bitter and twisted political campaign ever.  One of these people will be President.  How the hell did that happen?  Let us all practice sticking our heads between our legs and kissing our arses goodbye.

Finally, sod the lot of them as much as you can. Get up and go for a walk in the park, along the coast, out in the countryside and remind yourself that there is more, much, much more to life than the messages of doom and gloom that surround us.  Reclaim life's joys. They are still out there. Resist the agendas and campaigns, blatant or subtle, to make us feel guilty, to make us worry and to make us fearful.

I'm off to watch ducks on a lake for a while.

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