Friday, 25 March 2016

On the week that was

Adam Johnson

I've posted on Twitter that I don't think the girl is entirely blameless and therefore the sentence was not in my view, commensurate with the crime. Of course underage sex is morally dubious but Mr Johnson didn't have sex with the girl.

Our society is becoming more and more promiscuous- we have one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancies in the world, second only to the US. In 1964, 5% of girls had had sex before the age of 16. In 2002 that figure rose to 38%. A higher proportion of girls are experimenting with sex well before they have reached maturity. My question therefore is this: were these girls groomed into having sex or did they willingly rip their knickers off?

Who do we blame for this 'phenomenon'? Apart from the ease with which contraception is available paving the way for earlier sexual intercourse, there is another reason why we got to this point. Television and access to pornography. In a world of double standards, the BBC, for example, produces bonk-a-thons such a War and Peace, a diluted, frothy adaptation of one of those books that one would not normally read due to its interminable length and plodding prose. The book is about an evolving society under the threat of war yet the TV adaptation was primarily about sex. The depiction of all major themes that deal with society as a whole finish in the bedroom according to TV and film producers. Character development is thrown out the window- see The Night Manager who ends up shagging his boss' girlfriend and when it happened, was quite unexpected indeed. Did they have any conversation or obvious flirtation that led to wanting something more? No. All of a sudden they end up in a hotel room and the anticipation of an explosion about to happen (pardon the metaphor) wasn't there. Could a film be watchable without sex? Is everything just about sex? What sort of message does this send out to young, impressionable minds? And worse yet, who takes responsibility for this subliminal conditioning?

I also think a lot of parents need a kick up the backside for not monitoring their kids. We have sunk to such a low level in this country that we behave worse than animals. When we're hungry we reach for the ready-made pizza etc and families no longer communicate over a shared meal. Children crave routine and when they don't get it and are left to their own devices they end up with a skewed interpretation of reality. And when everyone finally wakes up it is unfortunately too late.

I don't accept that Mr Johnson groomed that girl. I believe he was just a deluded, immature hormonal male who took advantage of the attention he was getting. He is not unusual in that respect. A rich, young man will easily suffer with illusions of grandeur especially when he is used to having anything he wants. The immediacy of texting doesn't help either.  A love letter written by hand is not the same as staccatic half sentences which by their sheer brevity force the issue. No one writes eloquent poetry by text. Subtlety or any air of mystery which makes a romantic heart warm quietly is lost in today's world of 'I must have it now'.

In all of this, life has become pathetic and not what it should be. While we're here on earth we should strive to become a better version of ourselves not degenerate on a permanent basis. But I guess that's too wishful thinking.


Now that both of my favourite places- Brussels and Paris- have become targets for terrorists, I will be staying at home and discovering more of the UK. Much rhetoric has been spewed by so-called journalists about these terrorists but my question is this- what's the solution? How, might I ask, did immigrants get into Europe who are so obviously anti-West? Why is it not mandatory that anyone who chooses to live in Western Europe must be fluent in that country's language, must bring some skill and must become a fully fledged taxpayer within a finite period of say, one year or their benefits will be terminated and they will be deported. Enough of the rhetoric. Either shape up or ship out.


An even more mind-blowing and almost out of body experience this week- two middle class professionals asked me why I choose not to drink milk. When I said that I think it is morally wrong to force a cow to give birth then separate her from her calf and having heard cows screaming for their calves, I simply cannot stomach drinking milk that was not intended for me. What was the response I got? That these two dear ladies had no idea why cows produced milk in the first place and had never given any thought to where milk comes from. The times we live in are Kafka-esque indeed.

 Photo copyright SvD.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Have you never been mellow?

A remarkable conversation this week with a successful professional woman who purports to never having been depressed in her entire life. As my eyebrows reached for my hairline I wondered out loud how she could never, ever have felt even vaguely miserable during her life. "Never!", she exclaimed, looking at me in shock horror. I decided nonetheless to make sense of her inability to feel sad. Woody Allen famously remarked in Annie Hall (the best film ever?) that if he were to do mellow, he'd start to rot. Perhaps therein lies the key: avoid stagnation in any shape or form because inertia breeds disillusionment and apathy.

My professional friend has been lucky, I would say. She fell in love early with the great love of her life and has been married happily for over thirty years. There is no doubt that a loving marriage brings enormous stability into one's life. Never having to be superwoman and perform extraordinary feats just to survive is unknown to the feminist who keeps saying she can have it her way (or there's the highway). A marriage filled with joy and buckets of happiness is a rare thing but I would argue it comes about more by chance than choice. Not everyone hits the jackpot where marriage is concerned hence the national average of one in three marriages ending in tatters. And let's face it, if your personal life is miserable it's a tad difficult to beam with rays of happiness. The trick is to take divorce in one's stride as a rite of passage and that more often than not, the proverbial shit must occasionally hit the fan. Becoming bitter after all will just make you sad.

There's another way of looking at those who never feel blue- they're part of a small minority of people with sunny dispositions who remain oblivious to the dark side of life. They're less likely to ask probing questions to themselves or the universe. To not be terribly concerned about 'why am I here?' is not an indictment of hopeless stupidity but rather an understanding that endless soul searching, well, just makes you miserable. Humanity has been searching for thousands of years and there are still wars, murder and mayhem galore.

Let's get one thing straight though: the opposite of sad is not necessarily happy. Although one can claim to never having been depressed that doesn't mean that they're deliriously happy either. It means that they sail through life without encountering bad experiences that make them sad. And there's a reason for that too: if one doesn't stand near to a cliff edge the chances of toppling over it are remote. Remember that a falling coconut will smash your head to smithereens but you need to be sitting under a coconut tree for that to happen. Put yet another way, those who choose the safe option, never get to experience depths of despair because they avoid those situations in the first place. Risk takers or those who mash the accelerator are more likely to land on their face, lose everything and find themselves staring into the abyss.

There's another category too - those who are plain unlucky and who attract misfortune and failure. Don't call them stupid or gloat about their choosing their own miserable lot- not so. Life can be an obstacle course and not everyone has the requisite stores of courage, endurance and self knowledge to win, win, win in the stakes of life. Bad things don't necessarily only happen to bad people either and we are all guilty of making mistakes.

And finally, there are those who choose to be sad. Attention seekers who get a thrill from weeping on their doctor's shoulder and who keep coming back for another prescription of anti-depressants. Self-induced anxiety is a favourite past time for far too many hence the flush pharmaceutical industry. It seems that instead of feeling sad we prefer to be spaced out or indeed, to feel nothing.

So I ask you this: are you sure that you're sad and how would you know if you were happy?

Photo copyright SvD.