Fighting off cynicism

[I do not own a single keyboard where all the keys work – excuse missing letters. I’d buy a new one but hey – this is a Sun keyboard!]
For most of my twenties I was very cynical about..well..just about everything. I’d sneer at people going on demos, been there, done that, people still voted Tory. People trying to help the environment – wasting their time – no point trying to help the environment while the world is frothing with capitalism – a clean environment just isn’t cost effetive.

A couple of years ago, a good friend of mine bought me a copy of “Reasons to be cheerful” by Mark Steel and it really caused me to reconsider the cynicism – I can’t really explain why, you’ll have to read it, but one important point that comes out of it is that cynical is what they want you to be. And didn’t the FoE save Oxleas wood from distrution ? So I’ve been on a lot of demos recently, and I’ve been arguing with Sun readers…something I never used to bother with.

However, I’m currently experiencing what the god-botherers call a “crisis of faith”.
<digression>
We know someone who was clearly clinially depressed. He went to see his vicar who told him not to worry – Jesus was still there for him even though he was having a “crisis of faith”. Reassured and comforted by this helpful advice the guy went out got in his car, and shot himself in the head. As I’ve said before, God must be a bit of a bastard.
</digression>

750,000 people turned up in Central London on a monday, in the cold, to celebrate a few blokes who managed to move a leather ball into the correct part of a field more times than another bunch of blokes. St George’s crosses everywhere. The news was/is choc full of footage, anecdotes and whimsy about the event. How many times do we have to hear about the joy of simple, honest patriotism. How great it is that people can feel proud to be English again. Look up the word “pride” in the dictionary to see why I find the whole concept of pride in a nation utterly bizarre and offensive. Look back at what acts of genocide, torture and destruction were commited under the shadow of our glorious flag and then we can start arguing about why I am utterly opposed to all forms of nationalism, jingoism and patriotism: three words for the same thing.

So – which way now ? Cynical ? Cop out totally, wear a suit and earn a fortune. Let the proles eat cake. Give them football, drugs and a police state to keep them happy and obedient while we sip the red wine in comfort with the rest of the inner party ?

Or carry on, going on massive demos that get almost no press attention and rarely, if ever, change anything. Living on the edge of an overdraft while working really hard. Help.

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it
–George Bernard Shaw

He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”
— Albert Einstein (1875-1955)


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