As I sat in the departure lounge at Bristol Airport, waiting for my flight to spend Christmas in Tenerife, I became aware of a young couple in the joined metal seats that backed onto mine.
“I can’t wait to read this book,” said the woman. “It was even recommended by Barack Obama.”
The man muttered something unintelligible and the woman began to skim read.
After a matter of seconds the woman declared,”It says that basically it’s religion that’s ruined the place (the world)…..cracked it!” She laughed, waving the book in his face.
“How can you tell all that after 30 seconds,” said the man. I thought exactly the same.
There was no reply and she drank in the book as if slaking an irresistible thirst.
My curiosity piqued, I turned like an Owl to catch a glimpse of this literary and revelatory masterpiece. ‘Sapiens’ said the title. Another explanation of the human condition.
I resisted the temptation to join in this one-sided debate and mused on that great question for all of us. “Why are we here? …and why do we always seem to ruin everything?”
If I were to attempt a wild stab in the dark, I’d plump for the greedy, stupid and selfish nature of man as the chief cause, rather than organised religion, formed by his own hand. It is when we try and rewrite the laws of nature, or disregard it altogether, that we seem to get it all wrong.
I decided to read an online review of Sapiens, printed in the Guardian.
‘He accepts the common view that the fundamental structure of our emotions and desires hasn’t been touched by any of these revolutions: “our eating habits, our conflicts and sexuality are all the result of the way our hunter-gatherer minds interact with our post-industrial environment, with its mega-cities, airplanes, telephones and computers.”‘
I have to admit, I’m always happiest when walking with my dogs by the shore, in the woods or on the moors. It’s where I can think clearly and everything seems much simpler, whatever chaos is going on around me. I can stop to admire the microscopic biodiversity of the Robin’s pin-cushion,
and the irregular majesty of the oak or the grace of silver birch; the ever-turning tides and never ending skies. If beautiful thoughts produce beautiful minds then surely beautiful sights make beautiful souls. This is were I feel most at home and where I can casually, unconsciously study the nature of God and man.
If only I wasn’t interested in politics life would be so simple. A good friend of mine has a policy of never watching the news and I often wonder which of us is ignorant. The latest issue troubling me is the the sacking of government minister, Damian Green, for which a retired copper (or ‘the police’ as he is known) is to blame. I’d like to point out that it also had something to do with the minister having a load of porn on his work computer and lying about the fact.
It has become another stick with which to beat my beleaguered profession.
If there’s one thing I dislike about my job- it’s politics.
When I signed on the dotted line 30 years ago, I swore to do my duty to God and the Queen: to carry out my duties without fear or favour, malice or ill-will. Call me romantic or naive, but I meant it.
I was probably a little naive back then, but not any more. As a police officer you see too much of life and human nature to be that.
In the early years, Politics rarely entered my consciousness.
But gradually I became aware of the obsession of politicians and the media with the police.
Everyone had an opinion and everyone wanted a piece of the action.
I blocked it out for a while, but then I allowed it to affect me. For reasons unfathomable to me, the government began to turn on me. A corrosive narrative developed and phrases such as ‘more than a few bad apples’ appeared in the press. It seemed that I was vicariously liable for the independent actions of others; of this multi-headed Hydra that is ‘The Police.’
I understood that the police needed to save public money after the ruling classes squandered it, but I didn’t like the nasty tone and increasing lies that came with it.
I was doing my best and I was repeatedly told by our paymasters that it wasn’t good enough.
If you start listening to this stuff, it has an effect over time. I think it’s one of the reasons police nowadays are suffering such an epidemic of poor mental health. In the early days we were a team, united. Now we are single-crewed and divided by design.
As police budgets and numbers plunge and the attempts to squeeze even more juice out of already bitter lemons increases, it is high-time our leaders stepped forward to say enough is enough. Just be honest and tell the public the truth.
It has been portrayed as a battle between a resistant and sometimes rogue police service that needs to be put in its place and a Government that is trying to maintain the principle of justice and freedom.
In reality it is the fact that lies will catch you out, whatever side you’re on and honesty is always the best policy.
One thing to remember is that we all have a choice. To believe in what we want. To tell the truth or to lie. To be selfish or to try to think of others. To love or to hate. To be thankful every day or to harbour bitter resentment. I am certain that our attitude plays a big part in our character and our actions. Even our health and wellbeing. It is this choice that elevates us beyond the primitive.
I turned back to the book review. ‘The consumption of pornography is another good example. it’s just like overeating: if the minds of pornography addicts could be seen as bodies, they would look like the grossly obese.’
I suppose the moral of the story is to be careful what you look at and be careful what you say, as that is what defines us.
But if Mr Green, the former policing minister, was in need of an excuse he could just say, “Its the way my hunter-gatherer mind interacts with my current post-industrial environment,’…… or something like that.
Music for today:
As I’m in the holiday mood….
“Six mistakes mankind keeps making century after century:
Believing that personal gain is made by crushing others;
Worrying about things that cannot be changed or corrected;
Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it;
Refusing to set aside trivial preferences;
Neglecting development and refinement of the mind;
Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero