There are times when a picture does say it all…

There are times when a picture does say it all…

Y’know, as a writer I look around me at the worlds of business, politics and finance and think, ‘I couldn’t make this up.’  

This was reinforced for me when the love of my life and I were at the Edinburgh Book Festival recently and saw James Oswald and Gunnar Staalesen.  These are two authors who seriously know their stuff.  Not only are they incredibly successful, (multiple books published, films, TV, and in one case, a statue in the town in which the main character lives), but they are also delightful, funny and insightful human beings.  In sum, and to put it mildly, they do good stuff.  Obviously I am not envious, (he lied.)  

Anyway, to continue, one thing that particularly struck me was the answer to the question of where did they get their ideas from.  The reply was that it was less of a problem of not knowing what to write, but more what not to write about. 

‘There’s so much around you, all you have to do is look.’  

I understand and agree with this wholeheartedly.  

The reason for this train of thought is a recent picture I came across.  It’s by Norman Rockwell and called ‘The Golden Rule’.  The picture appeared on the cover of the The Saturday Evening Post, 1 April, 1961, and can be seen, along with the article, here:  http://bit.ly/18KaXyg 

I think that what attracted me to the picture is its simple belief, powerfully depicted, in our common humanity. The common humanity he identifies so well remains, although you’d maybe think otherwise if you were fed only on a diet of Fox News, an oxymoron if ever I saw one, or believe the ranting of the blowhards within the political and financial elites.  I look around and see how so many with a vested interest in the status quo try to prevent change. I see hatred being stirred up for political reasons, setting our humanity against each other for the benefit of those creating this dissonance, this wasteful emotion.  I see many decent people being exhorted, goaded, to turn against each other.  They do this not realising the ‘nudge’ they’re being given by the media, the moguls that control it, and the vested interests that support and thus gain by it.  It takes a simple picture, printed over 55 years ago to remind us that our humanity is a constant.  

We forget that at our peril. 

Have a look at the picture, it really does say it all…  

J J Mitchell

‘Never leave anyone behind…’

The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose

The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose

So here we are, the first week of the Olympics. It’s an interesting experience this, seeing carriers of the Olympic torch surrounded by people holding guns so that the torch bearer can’t be attacked.  Not seen that before. Oh, yes, apart from when China held the Olympics. They had special security people preventing others from even coming near. Looked quite fit. And trained. And dangerous. And willing to use violence. Similar to Brazil actually.  

It’s the cause of these experiences that I find interesting.  With China it was their reputation on human rights that appeared to be the main driver.  In Brazil, it is something else. When you have such inequality – political and economic – as they do; when you feel even your basic needs are being ignored by the powers that be; when you are frustrated at money being spent on something that is ephemeral and provides you with no benefit; when you are frustrated that you and your kind, the needy, the impoverished, the disadvantaged, are ignored because your ‘betters’ feel it is, ahem, better, to spend money on something that makes your ‘betters’ look good to others of their kind, then you react in any way you can. Which is why we’re seeing what we’re seeing.  

I’ve been to Brazil a few times. I love their open heartedness and generosity to others, the wicked sense of humour, and boy, do they know how to party. I like that in a people, in a culture. I also found Brazil fascinating in another sense – innate sensuality side by side with a very Roman Catholic belief system. Curious and contradictory.  

We need to keep in mind, if you ignore the people long enough; if you don’t give them the opportunity they see being offered to others; if your political system is such that only others of the elite can ‘play’; if people continually feel disenfranchised, alienated, then there will be consequences.

Closer to home, in the UK we saw that alienation in the Brexit vote. In the USA we’re seeing anger at the status quo, and Wall Street. We will have to wait until November to see if the disenfranchised vote in enough numbers to make President someone who, to put it mildly, appears to have a personality disorder. If he is successful then the world of ruling elites will only have themselves to blame.  

As the American Essayist, Playwright and Novelist, James Arthur Baldwin said, ‘The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.’ 

If that doesn’t convince you, think on the Italian saying, ‘Beware the person with nothing to lose.

They’re worth keeping in mind…

 

J J Mitchell

‘Never leave anyone behind…’