Monday, 28 September 2015

Give me your money, The sum of me.

A surprise last week to discover that we have been lied to all along about the emission safety of diesel in Volkswagen. The CEO resigns, there is talk of collusion with government and a cabal of screeching and hair pulling ensues- are all diesel cars what they seem? Should all cars now be retested in light of this deception? The thought of juicy compensation has consumers dribbling with delight.

Before I tackle Volkswagen, permit me to digress wildly to another topic. I have been reading Andre Gide's diary for several months. Such a vast book (and in Gide's own words, the writing he was proudest of) that I savour minute portions every day and cannot bear to race through it. Gide wrote in his diary that he had La Porte Etroite in his head for fifteen years before he actually began writing it. Similarly, one of my favourite books, La Belle du Seigneur, took the author, Albert Cohen, thirty years to write. You are now wondering what writing has in common with producing an automobile. Making cars is about making money. Writing books is about creative expression and not necessarily for commercial gain. And for both Gide and Cohen, writing was a profound labour of love.

One could argue that everything that is wrong in our world has less to do with love and more about money. We are world class racketeers, exploiters, pimps and prostitutes in equal measure when it comes to money. Nothing and no one, perhaps except the last remaining tribes in the depths of the undiscovered wilderness, is immune to the effects of or the need for money.

Call it my age but I hardly hyper ventilate anymore when news such as the Diesel scam gets exposed. Drivers will rightly feel hard done by but the  perverse expectation that we as consumers have between what we want, how much we are prepared to pay for it and what our purchases say about us, means that yes, we are happy to overlook being scammed about diesel emissions. I drive a diesel car and am amazed at how economical it is to run, the savings are substantial and literally music to my ears. Do I lie awake at night worrying about polluting the planet? No. That's the truth- the unadulterated, plain, perhaps shameful truth. We all have parameters of what defines us- call it values, standards, even aspirations. For example|: I object to animals being exploited and intensive, industrialised animal husbandry. I object to pesticides, insecticides and processed food. I object to vivisection and protest by taking no medication whatsoever even if I need it. I dislike fussy eaters with a passion and usually want to throttle them. I believe in God and my Catholic faith makes me a better person. I find people who buy dozens of cookbooks but eat microwaved ready meals daily to be the most confusing, if not deranged species. I do not follow trends or fashion. My favourite meal is roast pork. I could go on and on but I hope you get the point: we're all different and to encapsulate what goes on in the human mind is well, IMPOSSIBLE. What means something to one person is a laughable joke to someone else. Therefore since I was sold a diesel on the basis of fuel consumption don't expect me to self-flagellate because the manufacturer told a massive porker. They were driven by the bottom line and greed. There have been so many of these scandals in my lifetime that it would be a perfect surprise to discover that ethics and profit can co-exist in the world of big business.

The real issue with all these rip -offs and lies is the fact that the entire world is rigged for us to buy into widespread deceit and to say thank you at the same time. Every time you buy a pharmaceutical drug or even that ready-made lasagna, not all is ever what it seems. Do you honestly believe that the maker of that luxury lasagna didn't cut corners in some way in order to increase their profit margin? Do you really believe that the proclivity of doctors to prescribe antidepressants has to do with anything but profit? I spent years of my life standing in trains and paying a fortune for the privilege of doing so. How is it possible that in a country where millions of people use trains daily that the service can be so expensive? Clue: the fares began to rise when the network fell into private hands. The curse of the dividends is to ensure that shareholders reap the benefit of  the trust they place in those who must make them richer.

The sum of me
Readers may remember that I wrote about longing to live in a small space and not have so many possessions. Earlier this year I fulfilled that simple ambition- I ruthlessly got rid of everything that I hadn't used in twelve months and decided to put the remainder of my possessions in my car.  I then drove off on an adventure. Whatever couldn't fit  in the car was offloaded. And so the pottery collection, the cd collection, the electric stuff, the clothes, the china, crystal, hand made furniture, Persian carpets, potted plants, all went. Adios! I kept many books but not all, some basic clothes like jeans and jumpers, some of my paintings, a few photos and of course, my dog. I feel lighter and more disconnected from my past. In a sense I wish  I could live out of one suitcase only. It's called paring things down and deciding what we actually need. I used to love the way people stood in amazement looking at my things. Now I have nothing, I'm wondering what they will find amazing.

Photo copyright SvD.

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