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August 25, 2011

Busy – The In Word

by Val Reynolds
Rush, rush, rush © Pintail

Rush, rush, rush © Pintail

What does it mean, to be busy? We’ve always been busy, children, garden, job, house cleaning, it helps when your partner sorts the bills, the car and all it involves, and anything that we don’t want to get into. And why not? They don’t want to get into nappies, dog poo, washing the laundry, cleaning the windows, cleaning the loo, generally.

So division of chores is good … And getting the kids involved, meaningfully, is good too. So why are we still so busy, even though there is some sharing out? Why do we have less time for being close to people? Because we like being busy. We like achieving things, gettings things done. That’s the easy bit. What is not so easy is getting along with people. They can be awkward, not agree with you, point out uncomfortable facets of your personality, ignore you, forget you, and those who are completely themselves tend to be selfish and go their own way, after all you can be awkward, disagree with them, point out the facets of their character you don’t like.

Another aspect of ‘busy’ is there is more to choose from. There are more people doing those things and you want to be part of that group. Part of the gang. When we were newly married in the 1960‘s it was comforting to be part of our group, everyone was roughly in the same boat, mortgage, demanding job, impending parenthood, trying out recipes, making our own beer – what a competition that was! Competitiveness was everything actually, I remember when the men made scones to prove they were as good as the girls, they weren’t really. I remember too a custard making competition that was fearfully skewed in favour of what we were used to rather than taking on a new texture and real vanilla! However Bird’s Eye did lose a few fans that day.

I can remember races in Austin Sprites and MG Midgets round country lanes, the girls screaming with laughter and the boys putting their foot hard down to get round the bends. The roads were quieter then, the cars were less powerful. We were lucky, nobody got hurt.

We took risks, we didn’t take drugs. We drank, we didn’t carry knives. We were young. We were happy. We were high spirited. We were normal.

Most of us had had a sound education. We had jobs. We could pick and choose jobs too – there were more jobs than people to fill them. Immigrants were encouraged to come to do the work we didn’t want to do. We donated to charities especially those in Africa.

Oxford Street, London © Pintail

Oxford Street, London © Pintail

So what’s changed? In 2011 we are more. The population has increased. The roads are busier. The popular message until recently was shop ‘til you drop. The throwaway society. We are consumers. We like spending money. We resent it when we have less to spend.

Apple Store Regents' St, a palace of consumerism © Pintail

Apple Store Regents' St, a palace of consumerism © Pintail

So how do we differ from the hardcore rioters? I don’t count those silly enough to get caught up in the excitement of damaging property and policemen. I’m talking about those who are disaffected, resentful, envious, without those values we care about, who didn’t get caught.

What percentage of society are they? Very small percentage actually. But they have always been there. It’s just that the number, not the percentge, has escalated with the increase in population. And our attitude has a lot to do with it. Ignoring those who could do with a bit of support.  Not encouraging a tolerance of difference, sharing our good fortune – not just money, but experience.

And, we could be less casual and tolerant of our influential leaders who are so lacking in empathy. In the past they have publically displayed all the characteristics of the rioters, yet they were described as high spirited – just as well they had cash to cover their trashing.

Duplicity cannot be tolerated. We must make that clear to our politicians. We need leaders who can be recognised as good examples, no matter what.

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