We are in that vacuum period between Christmas and New Year when everyone is reflecting on the year just gone and the truths, or falsehoods we might have gleaned from it. It’s really the media filling spaces because there is very little normal political, economic or social activity taking place - but hey-ho, I’m a cynic.
One thing that today’s news did flag up was about the shortage of GP’s around the country. No surprise there you might think, but it is now, apparently, at the stage where surgeries are exhorting patients not to trouble the doctor but to self diagnose and seek alternative remedies. The problems seemingly stem from three factors - a shortage of trained doctors who opt for GP career routes, an ageing population with higher doctoral demands and a significant increase in frivolous or mischievous patient presenting at GP surgeries with nothing more than simple headaches, indigestion or very minor injuries that in previous generations would never have warranted a visit to the doctors. That’s something of a reflection upon our changing society, values and expectations and we must assume that that is a natural movement (I’m hesitant about calling it a progression) as our country and social structure shifts. Like many older folk, I remember times that were different but not necessarily any better, but the one thing we did have in times gone was a sense of personal responsibility which - as I look around me these days - I don’t see widely practised. And maybe that’s what the GP debate is all about - people taking a personal responsibility for some of the conditions they may willingly or otherwise feel the need to address through a doctor. But doctor’s are not there to appease our indulgences, they never really have been, they are there to treat the needy (though I suspect there’s a whole and separate argument about what GP’s should and should not be like lurking out there somewhere).
The other little social tale that struck me over the last couple of days was about adults ruining the way in which children should enjoy sport and other communal activities. The theme of this is based around parents becoming pushy and overly competitive when urging their children to run faster, score goals and in many instances trample over the opposition. Again, it’s a story of our changing society, our way of living and the perceived personal pressures that many seem to think exist even if they don’t in real terms. It’s also a little cameo picture of how the human species still remains - a picture of tribal, competitive and self interested behaviour that has characterised us since we first started emerging out of the caves. It is, of course, also to do with parents transposing their own sporting deficiencies and burdening their children with doing things that many of them never accomplished themselves but we now have the ‘benefit’ of research that let’s us know that many children don’t enjoy their childhoods because their parents are constantly shouting at them to do better and ‘beat the other fellow’ (figuratively or literally). So what does this tell us ? That we are still self-centred, competitive, brash, vulgar and ambitious for demonstrable success ? Those characteristics have probably been with us since our cave dwelling days - we just seem to hear about it (literally) more nowadays and we are what our changing society dictates, are we not ?
More globally, rising government oppression in Turkey seems to be growing. There looks to be the indicators of absolute dictatorship and a shift away from past leanings toward the West. It’s a conundrum when we see the German foreign minister advocating a sort of associate membership to the EU for nations like this, a little like inviting the wolf to dinner - or am I being melodramatic ? Elsewhere we see crisis and chaos - regrettably as usual - in Africa with political as well as humanity stories abundant - and I’m again struck by the curiosity of why, in the 21st Century, Africa, almost in every country within it, continues to live with the competing factions of what I would describe as ‘total tribality’ and the rivalry and misery that that engenders amongst the innocent. Richer nations have certainly played a part in stripping Africa bare, but there seems, nevertheless, little real capacity or genuine appetite for Africa to become self sufficient as other parts of the world have (in the main). Maybe the West has taught their ambitious souls to behave as venally as we have over the centuries - there seems little prospect of real improvement anywhere on the Continent.
This is the last blog of 2017. Normal service will resume in the early days of 2018. Happy New Year to my small band of followers.