Perhaps the most generous aspect of adding on the years is that you can draw wider perspectives, less narrowed by prejudices and popular opinions. Or so we'd all like to imagine, but at a base level we remain as indoctrinated with our prejudices and bias as ever albeit that we can recognise them as such and, maybe, compensate somewhat for them.
Watching the extraordinary protest and riot scenes erupting all over the US reminds Bristling Brock of the fragility of some of the institutions, frameworks and ideologies that the West has conjured up over the last 75 years to represent its notional ideals of democracy, justice and freedom - all precepts that since childhood we are educated to understand, respect and above all, uphold. The challenges to these conditions is not unique to the US - though they are perhaps riding nearer the surface there than in most other Western cultures - and we might well reflect on our own burgeoning negative attitudes to government and its related quango-like institutions over the COVID-19 pandemic. Societies the world over can tolerate so much; most of the time there is a fundamental adherence to those childhood imbued doctrines towards our society, but on those occasions where circumstances jump outside the framework of what we are accustomed to we can see - across the world - how limited societal tolerance and acceptance is. Rebellion is not an alien condition in the West, it thrives in our very hearts the moment those base doctrines are breached and we react. Those reactions range in intensity from the written and verbal rejections of perceived official excesses to outright feet on the street, protest and in some instances, violent opposition. What is happening in the US now is one of those circumstances, ignited by a long-standing seismic fault throughout American society and almost instantly breeding a hostile and violent reaction fueled by an amazingly stupid Presidents inflammatory remarks and comparisons. As we look on with horror and disgust, some who have the notion that we should be apologising for everything that has been rooted in the past display their mea culpa credentials like peacocks, imagining that that is some solution to the problem and that they, personally, are somehow above the general flotsam of the rest of society. How foolish these absurd and meaningless displays of vanity are, how arrogant and elitist, for they represent nothing that is substantive, nothing that is representative of the cultural shifts dictated by so called advancement. But it is a sign of our times, a righteous stance taken by those who believe they can equate themselves with others who have more genuine grievances to show solidarity. How vain, how completely they miss the underlying message they give out. It is not the way forward.
When we look at the desperate measures that are legislated to force adherence to new boundaries and codes of conduct over issues like equality, diversity, racism, religious tolerance, and many other areas of modern life what we are seeing is the attempt of governments (of all political hues) to respond to popular signs of rebellion, ie, they are the reaction to the perceived forces that suggests 'trouble will follow' unless you do what we say. Some might argue that that is democracy at work, the reality is that in our Western way of life we have become subjected to the pressures and values of minorities, vocal as they are, and our governments have bent to their wishes to avoid the imagined occurrence of civil unrest and disobedience. This is a reaction very much of the tail wagging the dog with the rest of us hamstrung in just about every freedom we imagine we have. And therein lies the fundamental problem: democracy demands the people are heard, that their wishes are sanctified within our moral and social codes - codes that are applied to all rather than just those it affects. And this is a corruption of governance, of the very institution we invest in to uphold not just the wishes of the few but of all. As some recent political slogan bleated out (for different reasons !) we need governance for the whole of society and not just the agitated few. It breeds the cynicism and contempt for government and its quasi-institutions - we see it on the streets of US cities and we see it here. Something of a pot is bubbling.
Bristling Brock had his faith a little restored this week when watching the footage of the Norwegian Air Force rescuing a dog that had fallen into a pickle when a huge landslide moved his home and other familiar surroundings into the sea. It was heartwarming to see the fellow brought back to land by kind and thoughtful rescuers. Well done the Norwegian Air Force !