"Money … can symbolize work, power, love won, or love denied. It can take the form of expensive homes, expensive clothes, expensive presents. Luxuries become necessities. Debt compensates for all shortcomings. "For people to admit they can't afford things they want means placing themselves in a position of weakness," says Dr. Edward J.Khantzian, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. "They have to say no to themselves, and nobody likes that." - Time (October 1982)
Following on from my blog last week about our over-reliance on financial power, I'd like to redress the balance this week and give some examples of wisdom which have occurred during my lifetime. Last week I was feeling a little dark and didn't really give too optimistic a picture of human nature and its possibilities. However, believing in our capacity to act not just knowledgeably but wisely is a necessary step to behaving wisely in the future. So, in the spirit of visioning a better future, here are ten examples of true wisdom that I can think of that have occured in my lifetime:
1. Destroying the apartheid system (1991)
2. Breaking down the Berlin wall and the East:West German divide (1989)
3. Abolishing fox hunting as a blood sport in the UK (2004).
4. Closing down Guantanamo Bay & the US denouncing torture (2009).
5. N.Ireland and the UK agreeing to live side-by-side in peace (1998).
6. Cuba, an incredibly poor country, training some of the best doctors and donating a large number of them to caring for others in other third world countries.
7. Japan publicly apologising for many of their past war crimes (NB: the power of an apology can never be under-estimated. Research shows that receiving an apology has a noticeable, positive physical effect on the body. An apology affects the bodily functions of the person receiving it - blood pressure decreases, heart rate slows and breathing becomes steadier).
8. Women and other minorities are given the right to earn equal pay for equal work under EU legislation.
9. The Dalai Lama's 'middle way' policy demonstrates the power of inaction and peaceful protest. Is there another equivalent public figure today who represents so much with so little material resource?
10. Britain's defense of the right of all human beings to legal representation and protection against draconian policing with the active blocking of both a 90-day detention and the 42-day detention proposal by our Government (to allow terrorist suspects to be detained by police for up to 90 or 42 days before being charged ie formally told what law they are accused of breaking). Finally this measure was removed (blocked primarily by the extremely non-democratic House of Lords - furthering the argument to considering alternatives to our democracy as we know it today?).
"The truth is that Wall Street gamblers are one of the causes of our frequent business depressions." - Floyd W. Parsons, The Saturday Evening Post (October 1923). Since this episode we have witnessed 13 further recessions, not including our current one. What wise thoughts or deeds can come of this?