Are we destined to become more rigid in our thinking?
I was tweeting as I shouldn’t this evening, as during many evenings I’ve done so before. It was partly in response to the anger that George Osborne & Co seem now to feel about the House of Lords voting down their proposals for cutting tax credits — such proposals clearly being an assault on the poor themselves instead of, as had once been the fairly consensual case, an assault on the poverty that affects so many.
I was wondering as a result why political leaders think so rigidly these days.
I even conceptualised a formula, slipping into Spanish in the meantime:
And so I ask myself — and you too — the following question, which I’d be really grateful if you could help me find the answer to:
As I did a quick Google, I found this article on rigid thinkings of all kinds — specifically aimed at helping parents with what previous generations might have called “recalcitrant” offspring, but which now more kindly — or maybe not so kindly — determines to be a series of conditions in need of therapeutic and/or medical actions.
As you read it, you may find yourself nodding in agreement — especially as you contemplate the inability of the UK government and its leaders to question themselves at all in the face of democratic rebuff.
It does seem a pretty sad state of affairs when democratic leaders decide to review, perhaps as a result finally change, the functioning of the constitution — the externals or place of the matters I mentioned in my first tweet at the top of this post — before questioning the internals of their assumptions, their beliefs …
… dare I say even their prejudices?
Place these dynamics in a different situation: a boss, for example, who must transmit the need to a new and inexperienced employee for a task to be carried out. The message delivered is short and sharp, though probably not aimed at being unkind; there is no attempt, however, to ensure understanding. The employee is neither proactive nor confident enough at that moment in their employment to ask for the message to be repeated. They decide, instead, to do what they thought they heard.
We know what’s likely to happen. The employee gets it wrong; the boss, whose assumptions in an ever-changing world have become so firm, cannot contemplate their own part in the errors committed. Easier to take onboard the idea that places, processes and ways of doing will flow and modulate without our control; more difficult to accept that anything we believe inside ourselves and do as a result can contribute to either mild or major disaster.
It’s what’s happened in the government’s response today. Their view of current UK democracy is that it is designed to allow a small group of people to do what they want for a period of five years — without having to manage change, never mind managing change well.
Their role, instead, is to impose their wishes on everyone, because that’s the prize they fought so hard to win — and the prize they clearly believe they ultimately won.
Never, in such fluid landscapes, could they ever begin to contemplate they might need to be just as fluid too. In fact, quite the contrary — and as the title of this post suggests. In a world of unceasing technological and environmental change — where that sense of place I’ve already mentioned can no longer convincingly act as a bulwark to our natural uncertainties as humans in curious existential universe — we may begin to need, emotionally speaking, all of us I mean, whatever our political starting-points, to become more rigid and conservative (where not Conservative) in our patterns of thinking.
Is it inevitable that our destiny lies in being a curmudgeonly species on a hugely societal scale? Will it ever get to the point where in the effervescence of a pressingly persistent and terrifying new too many of us revert to becoming a rigidly terrible old?
Like George Osborne & Co today, yes. But like, maybe, and this so gradually we are unable to realise it, the rest of us too — for exactly the same reasons as for our awful politicians.
If so, really, the future — that destiny I mention — is not going to be a very happy place.