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Friday, 2 October 2015

Not in the Whirlwind

Sometimes the world is so frenetic. In this  whirlwind, active England of ours - even out in the sticks, where you'd think we were more civilised - people are constantly shouting - through action, through clothing,  through sheer noise - "look at me!" And you get the suspicion that the increasingly Big-Brother-ish (in the Bazalgette sense), X-factored drawing of attention to oneself is a desperate attempt to attract to the shell of people - for fear that there may - in these days when response times are measured in nanoseconds, and you are the sum of your instant reactions - be just emptiness within.

Social media has plummeted - If it ever climbed in the first place - to similar attractions. People over-sharing for attention - for are page impressions not a form of love? An outbreak of virtue-signalling on Twitter that dwarfs everything since the gentry started putting their names on their almshouses.

I figured that, since value-signalling is a form of structured information, I could use it as a source of energy. So I got Young Keith to build me a Twitter-powered model aircraft. Had to ground it with technical problems, unfortunately. This terrible whining kept coming from its left wing.

And I am grateful to Ian Paul for his article on why pushy men get the top jobs - because they're pushy, it turns out. Though his article is so thorough that I got lost trying to work out his view on how humble men lose out to pushy women. For what it's worth, any of my sympathy for humble men will be put on hold while I await the findings on why there are so few "showy" females. Probably because if you get to be called "gobby" or accused of using sex as a career progression technique or have to be twice as pushy to get as far as less-talented men, you're at risk of deciding that being "humble" is a better career option. Still, pushy wins every time.

So in the midst of a value-signalling, attention-seeking, image-projecting world I made my little oasis of fuzzy thinking here. A place of quiet and reflection, where we could let silence drive out the murmurs of self-will. And what do I find?

An average of twenty meetings a week. Sixteen separate rotas. Acts of worship that become about the planners, the leaders, the person whose folksy ten-minute links between songs just became fifteen minutes. The people who tell you that if you behave like them, smile like them, tilt your head to a 27° angle when you hear any kind of sad news like them - then you can know a true form of self-realisation, and not worry about the emptiness and the fear that, one of these days, the whirlwind outside will break your shell.

Down by the side of the main road, an old bloke sits looking on a pile of newspapers and watches the traffic go past - all day. And someone sits alongside him. In the Med, a boat is hunting for sinking dinghies and struggling to save the people on them. And someone is walking alongside them. In a bombed out street, a girl struggles to cook a meal for her younger brothers. And though they don't know it, someone is at the meal with them. Not in the whirlwind? Maybe.

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