This is probably one of these posts which will get me in trouble, but cycling past the soldiers standing in the rain this morning — marking the anniversary of the Somme — I was moved to tears and anger.
In that 4 month long battle 1,000,000 men died to fight for 5 miles of mud. Such huge losses for such a meagre and meaningless win at the whim of a few crazy notions from a few crazy people.
I am an humanitarian. My business works for the peaceful and collaborative progress of civilisation. What follows are personal thoughts.
It is 100 years today since the Battle of the Somme. In the first month alone, hundreds of thousands sacrificed their lives to create a peaceful future Europe because that future was being jeopardised by the egos of a few wanton maniacs.
It was the Great War. The war to end all wars. Because that madness — that deeply sickening up situation where nationalism, imperialism, concentration of power, and fear of change leads to the death of millions and international catastrophes whose ripples we still feel today — THAT madness could NEVER BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN AGAIN.
No generation expects to go to war but almost every generation has. Humans are not good at finding peaceful solutions to big problems. And yet for a glorious moment there we were on to something. We had peace in Europe. We eased 13 countries out of dictatorships into healthy functioning prosperous democracies. We created powerful protections of freedom. We set rules which meant that never again could a few spoil civilisation for the many. We brought harmony to basic, simple, every day things which meant that people could travel freely, connect openly and without fear, and do their very best at living lives together in peaceful collaboration.
It could never happen again.
And yet. And yet.
From the Roman Senate to the current day, these self-indulgent, visionless politicians play out their hackneyed set pieces on the political stage. We deserve so much better. We could have so much better. The world we want is merely a choice away.
This is NOT a statement on Europe. I don’t care if you were in or out. What’s important now is that we make the best of it. So what I care deeply about is the calibre of our political ‘leadership’. The idea that the people jostling for headlines are people who can deliver that is.. well it breaks my heart.
And what makes it even more horribly, gut-wrenchingly, tragic is that these people who hold everyone back from their full and glorious potential are SO FEW.
The vast majority of politicians are AMAZING tireless public servants. There are business and community leaders who are AMAZING public servants. There are organisations who create policies whose foresight and insight puts governments to shame. And you know what? We can change the game. We can make sure it’s these people who we trust with the decisions. We can empower our brightest and best people. We can open governance up to everyone so that it works for everyone. (Plug / disclosure: I work on this at represent.me)
Thank god we are kept busy by our phones, gripped by our mortgages, fearful for our jobs, and sated by happy-meals and happy hours so we can laugh-through the madness be reminded that at the end of the day, most people are actually really wonderful — because if we looked up, and if we paid attention more often, and we realised not only what IS being done in our name, but more importantly which things are NOT being adequately addressed — well… it’s a mystery to me that the people of the UK haven’t downed tools, and taken to the streets with poppies of peace to protest and say “ENOUGH. Enough with these games. Enough with these petty machinations and jostling of power. THIS IS REAL. THESE ARE OUR LIVES. We are *NOT* your playthings to be cajoled and lied to so we run around like pawns on your chess board. THIS. IS. REAL. THIS. IS. IMPORTANT. THIS IS OUR FUTURE. AND WE WILL MAKE IT BETTER.”