Friday, May 29, 2009

Ah, experts! And our Dear Leaders too (of course!)

How many of you watch the news, hands clasped to your swiftly beating hearts, as our betters — the captains of our fate — explain so clearly how their plans will save us? We're going through it all with swine flu at the moment. Experts are interviewed and of course they know something which they're happy to share with us. The Tamiflu factory is chugging out millions of doses to make us all safe at home and at work. A ship full of anxious tourists is sailing up and down the coast while our experts try to determine whether it represents a threat or menace to the health of us all, or to its own passengers, or both.

What is this all about? Why does it matter who says what? Does someone need to be blamed for the situation? Who is busy doing the saving? Why do we care?

We care if we believe that if we do the right thing, everything will turn out fine. And doing the right thing for many of us consists in some simple or perhaps not so simple, abstract, narrowly focused task that someone we have never known has decreed should be done and we must do. Every week day.

We may have only the sketchiest idea of how the whole system which supports us works, but we are sure it should. After all, it always has! We may have a fair understanding of what it is we do, but no idea of what our neighbour does. But we may believe that most of our our neighbours are busy like we are, keeping the Show on the Road. And although we have no real understanding of how the system actually works (although we may think we do!), we are sure there are special creatures far above us who do understand, who with knitted brows and stern expressions, steer the ship of State with its nervous passengers safely through the Storms of Life.

But what if they really don't know? What happens when they can't keep the ship off the rocks? We've invested rather heavily in this game: what if it turns out to be a dud? How many of us can build a new world and then survive and prosper should the need arise?

So many of us are fenced in by narrow specialities, abilities, desires, prior investments. We are fragile.

Don't lean on something for support which you don't really understand. Food comes from the supermarket, and fuel from the service station on the corner — for the moment. But no-one can tell you if it will continue. It's all too complex, fragile and unsustainable to go on much longer uninterrupted. No-one controls it or understands it. No expert, no leader.

So watch the news as though you're seeing Martians, not fellow humans. Get out of debt, grow a garden, learn to fix your own stuff, enjoy your friends and family, help your neighbours and keep clear of trouble as much as you can. Because in the end it's your life and you've got to take control of it.

If you leave it to the experts (and our dear leaders) you'll most likely be toast.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Richardson said...

Great advice Lloyd.

I don't watch TV or read the papers...someone only told me a couple days ago about the swine flu and the floods up north.

What a happy sheltered life I live.