Monday, 4 December 2006

Wouldn't it be nice....

by Pritchard Buckminster

A close and much loved friend once asked me of an evening, somewhat out of the blue and ruminatively around a mouthful of fine claret as I recall, “What could we, as a group, do to make the World a better place?”

After gentle probing it seems that this was not a continuation of our often re-iterated theme “wouldn’t it be nice if everyone was nice”* but rather a specific and heartfelt enquiry. This young gentleman, of no small means, wished to try and improve our World in a qualitative fashion.

Somewhat agape I realised that I had no response to offer. None. Nothing. Nada. This concerned and irritated me in equal measure and seemed to drive my friend into deeper melancholy. Sanguine in this seemingly expected response he re-filled his glass and looked into it, far distant in thought.

Later, remembering this perturbing exchange I came to think upon it once again. Everyone knows what’s wrong after all.

Really? Am I suggesting that, taking an emotive and tediously perpetual issue at random, my understanding of immigration is the same as the USA Today’s economics editor’s, an Oxford Sociology lecturer’s and a Bradford bricklayer’s?

Clearly not.

Every obvious solution hides more and more subtle and ephemeral issues and counter-issues like string theory constructed with Russian dolls.

Back to the evening in question we dallied with possible ‘solutions’. Over-population and lack of education walk hand in hand down avenues of destruction, a recursive duet in pain and hunger. Maybe a ‘Proud NOT to breed’ effort, we could have badges!

No.

Charitable donations then (but what harm these institutions that formalise dependence and make poverty the thing rather than the absence). We discussed an up-lifting poem or novel or a piece of art to represent humility and grace. As the level of the second bottle sank and I joined my friend in a glum contemplation of inevitable future unhappiness we became increasingly desperate to find something that we could point at and say, “Look, I am making a difference”.

We wondered if happiness is communicable – after all, laughter is. If I am happy then all those around me are privy to a piece of it. Maybe to make the World a better place we should simply strive for our own (preferably non-materialistic) happiness. But what a nest of snakes that can be as to be truly happy you must know yourself and, more importantly, the yourself you want to be.

I started this piece with an eye towards a possible answer but I find myself adrift on the immensity of its scope. To salve my self-worth I will communicate five simple rules that work to protect my fragile happiness from the caustic indifference of the real World. These rules will not work for you, formulate your own, or don’t, whatever makes you happy really. If we could all just raise one extra smile a day…..

(i) Never trust any institution, organisation or Government. Ever. No there aren’t any exceptions. Yes they ARE lying to you. Yes you too. No their intention doesn’t matter. Accept this and move on.
(ii) Never do DIY. In the time it takes you could earn enough to pay a professional.
(iii) With the time/happiness you save in (ii) – go roll in a field. Especially in the rain.
(iv) Understand that every day granted to you in health is a day that the Government has once again failed to fuck up your existence. This is the pinnacle of their capability. Be thankful.
(v) Try anything and everything once, embrace novelty. If anyone sneers/laughs/vomits just try harder.

‘Wouldn’t it be Nice if Everyone Was Nice’ was the song sung by the mechanical puppets at Duff gardens – a Simpsons parody of Busch Gardens in Florida. This quickly became a LMWN favourite phrase to describe any kind of woolly-headed naiveté or well-meaning hippy nonsense. It is used here in ironic context with full permission of all participants.

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