Springingtiger's Blog


The World Is Too Much With Us
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Society of St. Francis Friary, Alnmouth

Sometimes it is difficult to make sense of this world. Within the space of a week we have seen a homo0phobic mass shooting in a Gay nightclub in Orlando and an English Member of Parliament murdered, it would seem for her support for refugees, but as yet we can’t be entirely sure of the killer’s motivation except that he is a supporter of Britain First. We have seen English football fans attacking people on the streets of France, but to be fair, thuggery seems to be the distinguishing feature of football fans of several nations. I must admit my mood is not improved by this being the season of Orange Walks and the inconvenience and disruption they cause, even when orderly. The media and social media are full of people spouting xenophobia and hatred to try and secure Britain’s departure from the European Union while many who spouted the same hatred a little while ago are now are arguing with similar language to keep Britain in the EU. What is astonishing and depressing is the sheer amount of vitriol from both sides and the incessant negativity. No one is making any sort of case for why a vote in either direction will make the world better or even, Britain. The inescapable conclusion looking at both camps is, that in the words of Private Fraser “We’re a’ doomed, Doomed I tell ye!”

Regardless of the violence of the last few days there is little to celebrate elsewhere in the news. The Chancellor can say what he likes, but I can see the empty shops and closed businesses in our streets. Sometimes the government seems to forget there is a Britain outside London.

It is impossible to escape the information onslaught. Every pub and every bank and office seems to have television screens either feeding us football or news. Nearly every shop and restaurant insists on playing music, often of dubious merit. On social media I find friends being unpleasant to each other merely because they express divergent opinions. It seems that the inevitable consequence of free speech is hatred and ruptured relationships

Sometimes this world is just too demanding, the amount of information too overwhelming, the lack of clarity and validated fact too confusing, and the incessant sensory stimuli too omnipresent. It is time to escape. Turn off the television, stop reading newspapers, ignore Facebook and Twitter except perhaps the Steampunk and Cosplay sites where participants are interested in more important things than politics…okay fluffy kittens are fairly safe too.

Sometimes it is necessary just to shut down. It is a couple of years since I last made a silent retreat, but I feel the urge to escape building. A break in the country with no phone signal nor wifi would be very acceptable too, just a pile of books and my wife to keep me company, that would be good.

I had a friend who used to swear by flotation tanks. I am too suspicious of shared water, although I don’t suppose it’s any worse than a swimming pool, indeed given recent articles about ‘floaters’ (another reason to avoid newspapers), probably cleaner than a swimming pool. Even a walk by the river, or digging the garden can help. We all need sometimes to stop and let go. To pause. To relax and just breathe.

At the moment Britain is awash with emotion, with anger and hatred, xenophobia and sectarianism. We need to cool ourselves and release the pressure now. If we do not something will have to give, and an uncontrolled explosion of violence in the streets of our cities is something none of us need. I almost said ‘none of us want’, but unfortunately the death of Jo Cox shows that is not so. There is a very real danger of hatred and resentment leading to violence and the levels we have reached, I believe, make that imminent. I hope our television screens are not going to be filled with images of violence, I think perhaps I shall leave mine turned off a little longer.

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