As I sweltered on the beach, (yes, I finally decided to venture out in the sun for a change), I couldn’t help but help but notice how carefree everyone seemed. The media hype, the chaos and confusion caused by a litany of deaths, through infrastructural neglect and terrorism, had done little to spoil their fun.
You could see it as British stoicism, I suppose, much like that awful relic of state propaganda so many have mistaken for nostalgia, keep calm and carry on. But I believe it’s more than that, it’s a fundamental shift in perception, a mass behavioural adjustment, a change in attitude that cannot be undone. The value of life in the human market has just taken another tumble, and there are grave doubts it will ever recover.
Under the law, the British have little choice in how they protect themselves. Several citizens have even been jailed for defending their homes during an armed robbery. The UK government hates have-a-go heroes, they’ll tell you to stay where you are in the midst of an inferno, to run and hide from one’s assailants, to tittle-tattle to the state rather than exercise one’s own right to freedom of speech.
So we sit in the sun and burn, and if anybody puts the radio on, they’ll skip the news and put on some tunes to keep the atmosphere light and bubbly. People will criticise, or even apologise for the way we live, of what we think and do, how greedy the rich, and lazy the poor. Never once suspecting that the little we have left at stake, our crumbling institutions and the jaded hearts of the tired and dispossessed will soon be the stuff of dreams. Our lives are under evaluation, mobilising strategies for broader rationalisation and ongoing recriminations. A whole new political agenda is on the cards and the odds are stacked way against us.
We’ve been offered the choice of a comfortable slavery, in return for the notion of freedom, censorship to protect free speech, the weaponization of the state for our safety, and the death of individuality in trade for a veneer of civil society. It’s all for show you know, no matter how the media spin the story, the human race has been reduced to fighting over territory in a global prison yard.
I don’t envy the young. If the world fell apart tomorrow, at least I’d had some fun, and had my say when people still bothered to listen to opinion. Over the years I’ve managed to gather together a few home comforts, a roof over my head, a nominal opportunity to express my thoughts and feelings without the fear of recrimination. But for those who’ve not been here long you have a choice to make, to carve out a world you can tolerate, before someone else does it for you.
My grandfather served in WW2, but as far as my later father and I are concerned, we were able to discover our own unique ideologies, unhindered by state propaganda and forced military conscription. Few of my generation have had to take up arms, and I doubt any of us ever will. The vast majority of people in this country drive cars and vans to get from A to B, we don’t see the world as conflict, and every tool at hand as a weapon. But the time is coming, following the precedence of suffering and terror, when a whole swathe of the young will find themselves signed up to a war they never believed in.
Suicide is the biggest killer, not terrorism. Depression isn’t just an economic term, it means that things aren’t as good as they used to be, and that we must all make do with less, and share more, or leave. Modern life isn’t about charity, or caring for one another, it’s fear and cowardice, waiting for others to fight the fight, whilst the majority sit it out and wait to make compromises. Billions, hoping against all hope that very soon everything will return to normality. When it doesn’t, we’ll waste our time in endless well-meaning discussions, until eventually we’ll make a compromise too far, and simply decide to accept our fate, and learn to embrace this hellish modernity of ours, the new normal.