What’s the point?

All the talking and cajoling in the world can be beaten by behaving well ourselves. I’ve repeated the last line of the preceding article “Trust Yourself” because I wrote ‘cannot’ instead of ‘can’, which made it the opposite of what I intended. I am telling you this to make it clear how easily we can say the opposite of what we mean. This is what we call a Freudian Slip.

Why should I do so? Does it mean I really do want to say the opposite of what I said? No. But just as everything must have its opposite, hidden away in our unconscious minds, we are reminded to make sure of the truth of the conscious utterance by comparing it with its opposite. There may be another reason for this lapse. It may be that I am frightened that what I meant to say might not be true. Because I very much want it to be true this makes me try to think of more reasons why it could be true. That is the theme of this article.

Every day something happens in the media that makes me very angry. But it doesn’t do me any good if I do: or does it? I have said before that powerful emotions can distort circumstances. But there is always another side to it.

As in most revolutions, people lose their fear because it is overcome by the powerful effect of extreme misery. People do not then care whether they live or die. We, in the western countries, live in conditions far better than ever before. Yet we all know about and some of us have lived through the worst wars in history. When I was at school doing my School Certificate we heard about the first atomic bombs dropped on Japan. I was devastated. I believed that I would not live for very long, because now there was such a weapon I could not imagine that it would not be used, and very soon. If someone had told me I would still be here in my eighties I would not have believed it.

In fact the new weapons were so devastating that no-one dared to use them for fear of another country retaliating.

There have still been wars, but nothing like a Third World War. After the devastation during 1939-1945, I have been surprised by all the good things that have happened to improve our lives. When the pendulum reaches the extreme of painful times there is always a reaction and it starts to go back in the contrary direction.

After the French Revolution and the terrors that followed, people became sickened by all the bloodshed. When it was over there were great public celebrations including ecstatic dancing on the graves of the dead. It is all too easy to become overwhelmed by the bad things that happen but nothing lasts for ever.

Bertrand Russell pointed out that despite all the madness in history “folly is perennial as Erasmus found and yet the human race has survived. The follies of our own times are easier to bear when they are seen against the background of past follies.” There are always two sides to every situation.