With another Remembrance Sunday looming, my thoughts turn to those who have given their lives in many wars, for the freedoms those of us in the ‘civilised’ West enjoy:
- the freedom to vote for ‘any of the above’ in the certain knowledge that the real issues will always be ignored, and that all promises of change will be non-binding;
- the freedom to vote for none of the above (knowing that there is no way that enough people could be persuaded to do so to make society stop and think);
- the freedom to obey laws that may have made sense in past eras that moved more slowly, but that are all too often nonsensical in the lemming-like rush of ‘progress’;
- the freedom to pay taxes to support a broken system that increases the divide between rich and poor (while pretenders promise otherwise);
- the freedom to buy into a consumerism that is literally tearing our planet apart for the enrichment of the few.
In the wake of the last global financial-almost-meltdown, I penned a poem (‘The new emperor’s buttonhole‘) lamenting that the game of Western democracy — for which so many fought and died — is rigged so that we can never get truly effective leadership. Since then, despite many promises, the banks remain largely unregulated and Those In Power fiddle at the edges as Rome’s burning looms again on the horizon.
What have the Romans ever done for us? I’ll tell you one thing the bloody Romans did: they cynically redated the birth of a popular religious figure so that it coincided with the ancient pagan festival of midwinter so as to keep the population under control. More recently, Those In Power scare us with ‘terrists’ under the bed — where once there were ‘commies’ — to the same end; while continuing to ignore the real threats to life on Earth.
Winston Churchill once said: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” Prophetic, ironic words — I didn’t know he was talking about bankers.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose — the more things change, the more they stay the same.