Here’s a stand-up both gentle and fierce, in which I try to make a few big challenging points that some of my friends will no doubt find irritating. Hopefully stimulating and funny also, and above all, may they ultimately prove productive and useful.
Politics is incredibly frustrating – there’s no question about that. But rather than rehearsing our justifications for anger, it’s worth asking – what are we still not seeing – and what might have greater effect than tribalist anger?
As a writer, a mister-curious, a lover of human-striving and a man from a lost civilization, I cultivate an unusual range of friends. Being a writer alone obligates me to extend fair understanding even to the ideas I disagree with, because otherwise it is impossible to tell any deep truth about people at all. But my other qualities of weird openness have proven something else to me. Every faction enjoys a few treasured delusions, and also has some insight others lack. Humour too, and culture the hostile never get to see.
I know leftists and rightists, authoritarian statists and fierce libertarians, people from near and far, also – but most importantly, I know people who are in their seventies and eighties, and people who are in their teens and twenties – and the difference between their insights and illusions isn’t just stark (and frankly, painful) it’s also blocking crucial progress.
The older folks do have a lot of analog humane insights with real value – and my own curious X-er cohort has the strange perspective of the blend – we saw where digital came from, and still remember what came before.
But I have to say, the most blindingly obvious thing to young people actually is far more important than all of the things we grey-hairs obsess about so self-importantly, put together.
How do we prevent near-term and never ending global catastrophe, produced by our own freedom to be ignorant, multiplied on scales too vast for us individuals to comprehend – without giving up on freedom altogether, as a tried and failed experiment?
A lethal footprint out of all proportion to any transitory value created.
Seriously folks – if we ever had any duty to honour at all – that answer is it.