I have been trying to avoid newspapers and the news on television these last couple of years. But you can’t get away from it. Headlines are splashed across screens at train stations, in restaurants and on social media. And, to be honest, I can’t resist, from time to time, checking in to see what’s up. I’m never glad I did.
The media….pick any type you like….has a mandate to shock us by reporting and sensationalising bad news. They know, psychologically, that we like it. Bad news from elsewhere makes us feel safe where we are. It also sobers us into a view of reality that, quite frankly, is media driven. Marshall McLuhan was right. Media is the message.
And the sobering fact is, we’re told that the world is going to hell in a handcart and there’s nothing we can do about it. Some try. Lives are lost when the populace goes up against what we used to call The Establishment in the 1960s. But for people to rise up and change things, it would take such a determination of will. And even then, whose will would prevail in the aftermath? Whose philosophy of life? Anarchists have no plan after the destruction of society. But they would probably say there is no plan because plans by definition are flawed from the outset. Anarchists exist to destroy anything that is built….like kids who knock down a Lego house for the fun of it.
No one seems truly happy and content these days. Tragedy in so many peoples’ lives, many of whom I know personally. Maybe a few are truly happy, but there isn’t much to get excited about in the world if you watch or read about in the news. We grab moments of joy. They are fleeting. Lots of people have to take some kind of substance to dull or enhance the senses in order to feel something, experience anything beyond the ordinary or just plain escape our reality. We have gurus and psychics, priests, psychiatrists, agony aunts (remember Ann Landers and Deirdre?), self-help books and groups all so that we can hear that our present and future are bright. Now with the advance of Quantum Physics, some question the validity of anything we call reality. Again, if you buy into all that stuff.
Problem is, there is so much media and so many messages bombarding us from all sides that it is vitually impossible to sift through it all and get a coherent message. And who is telling the truth about anything anyway? I used to be a preacher. Thought for years that I was spreading the truth. Turns out it isn’t. Only to some and they hang on to it like a talisman. I suppose the truth is that we all have or need some sort of talisman to make sense of this crazy old world. Mine has become my music and my writing. Just bringing these few thoughts and others like them into existance make life worthwhile for me. That and hoping my three kids (all grown up) back in Canada are healthy and as fulfilled as possible.
I also have my best friend who makes sense of this life to me. I know she’ll read this, so I won’t say any more. Thanks, mate, for the insights, the patience and the caring. Small circle really. Friends, most of them, come and go. In the end, we have a very small circle of people in our lives who we trust and who care who we are for, well, who we are. The rest would sell us down the river to save their own lives. I hope I wouldn’t, but I’m not that sure even of me. Never been tested to the max.
So, I read the news today….oh boy. Some military General in the United States has all but predicted the inevitability of a third world war, one that will be quick and nasty. The usual suspects are paraded out….Russia, China and so on….except for the United States. But there’s no guarantee there either. I shouldn’t have, but I went to the internet and punched in ‘predictions for world war three’. An endless stream of old and new material came up discussing this and that event occurring in the world that could trigger a global war. And it doesn’t help that the media reports Putin’s Russia is deploying nuclear missiles close to the Polish and Lithuanian borders and is thinking once again of being a military presence in Cuba.
Posturing? Blustering? Media hype? Probably much of that, with the old kernel of truth thrown in. My dad read a lot of books on and by Winston Churchill. War fascinated my dad. He passed that curiosity on to his two sons. Fascinated but fearful. That’s us. Dad would say that no one wanted to believe a second world war was inevitable. Churchill was seen as an anacronym in his day. A war monger. The years 1939-1945 were supposed to teach the world a lesson. Vladimir Putin was born just over a year after me and 7 years after WWII. What does he know about global war? Nothing. He is the Russian Trump. Just my estimation. How true that is remains to be seen.
Taking a deep breath. Can’t read or listen to any more. I’m sitting on my narrowboat in our little marina in Apsley (Hemel Hempstead), Hertfordshire. At this moment, the sky is mostly clear, the air is cool. A vintage war plane from the second world war flew over earlier. Some see that as a sign of freedom, others a destructive machine that is a reminder of part of humanity’s failure to overcome its lust for violence. It reminded me of what my dad did in that last global conflict. He fixed those machines and kept them flying. Nostalgia. Ought to remain as such.
Not much humour in this Blog. In one of those moods and I had to say my piece. Hope you understand. Not sure I do entirely. This is what happens when I come out of my little boat world and dare to look at the big picture. So, back to my distractions and the things I do in my small acre. There is now, more than ever, deeper meaning in just being, breathing and gazing at the stars. May your skies ever be clear and bright, but in a safe and peaceful way.