Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Bob Dylan and 2012

In my previous article I stated that the British athletes have been saying, "If we can accomplish what we have, then everyone can do it!". I asked if that was really the situation.

It would be quite easy to (and sometimes I do) dive into a rant against Tory-ism and their record of elite-ism, which I fear is what the Olympic legacy idea will turn into. The Tory government is hell-bent on their plan to pull in the reins on expenditure, therefore it is difficult to see them stopping the selling of playing-fields and investing (other than through Lottery funds) money into the 'Legacy'.

To be fair, the Socialists in this country don't have such a good record either - well, at least since the post-WW2 years, perhaps one of the bravest periods of government this country has witnessed. But the people got tired of grey-ness and wanted something of what the toffs had. By the mid-1990s, the Labour Party decided that to try and live by some form of decent well-thought principles was out of date, so out went Clause 4 with nothing of great depth to replace it. And since then, the Labour Party has taken on the hue of another mid-stream political party trying to get the support of the professional classes.

And the Liberals? Well, they just have ideas. And think. And have ideas. Just recently, the Libs in the Coalition Pact were threatening to throw their dummy out of the pram if the Tories would not agree to the reform of the House of Lords. And this was at a time when the economy was and is getting into more of a stew and requires pro-active thinking to move away from a triple-dip recession. The Lib-Dems could not bring themselves to fight their Tory friends on that; instead they thought that the 100th anniversary of their 1911 efforts in the Lords was more worthy of remembrance.

So what is the future? I for one feel that the mechanistic, unfair and unimaginative politics that exists has had its day. People have shown in the polls they're not interested, but what will interest them? Perhaps its the notion of 'haves' and 'have nots' being a natural concomitant of human existence, or, worse, that unfairness just has to be accepted. I find that a negative and unevolutionary view.

But the people, somehow, retain an enthusiasm for something worthwhile. What greater proof do we have of the willingness of people to give their all but by observing the enthusiasm of the 70,000 volunteers at this year's London Olympics. It was not a political event, it was a people's event, and thus the volunteers knew that what they were dealing with was not a situation full of legal safeguards (e.g. Health and Safety), monetary-ism and political one-up-manship, but simply an inter-action with people who were (and are), when it comes down to it, just like them. The result? Unity.

If we examine the lives of spiritual communities through the ages then we see that they pooled their resources and their commitment. No one was without. Our society needs to move that way by accepting that we have the spiritual capablity to do it - but as taught by all the great spiritual masters, not according to some Hippie notion without effort and commitment.

Let us re-find our true selves. Perhaps the end of 2012 may lead us to that very thing.

"The world is a-changin'" (Dylan)

Monday, 13 August 2012

How To Get A Level Playing Field?

The 30th Olympiad in modern times has - they say - come to an end. The cauldron has ceased burning and the Olympic flag has been handed over to Rio de Janeiro. Speeches have been made saying how great this Olympic event has been and of how the government is suddenly going to further support the development of new athletes, particularly by bringing about a greater interest in schools. 'Legacy' is the new buzz-word.

Fine - all that is good. But it is a terrible shame that the Thatcher government all those 30 years ago started the trend of selling off school playing fields - and all the governments since have followed suit. Even last week the government were to sign off the sale of another few dozen playing fields - have they now decided not to do that? The ways and means of governments are wonderful to behold.

But back to the London Olympics. The fact is, it's not yet over. The Paralympics is about to start. Are its participants regarded as a separate breed so that they are not to be included in the government's plans? Shouldn't the legacy speeches be made after the Paralympics to strike a chord of unity amongst everyone, not just those that happen to be still in the possession of all their limbs and faculties?

I have, however, a transcending perspective about the effect of the Games. Many of our athletes have been saying that they are ordinary people; if they can accomplish what they have, then everyone must be able to do it. These are very wise words - but not everyone wants to be a sports person. If this folk-wisdom were to be re-directed to cause everyone to believe that they can accomplish something great - not necessarily in sport - but in any field of life, then wouldn't we have the potential of a great civilisation? As Chris Boardman (a former cycling gold medallist) has said: "[Even] achieving a gold medal is not the summit of life ... it is not the end; happiness does not permanently exist in the winning of a medal."

But everyone - in our current form of society - won't accomplish something great. And the 'why?' is in the fact of competition itself. Those that win are glorified by the rest while those that cannot (or not properly helped) to keep up inevitably fall by the wayside and might become criminals or at least benefit claimants, groups of people who tend to get hounded when the economic going gets tough. I would suggest that until society shares its opportunities and winnings amongst all its brothers and sisters, so long as there remains a concept of 'haves' and 'have nots', then there will not be a level playing field of opportunity.

There ... now what was I saying about the sale of playing fields?