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Anorak | After Grenfell Tower arrests and party politics: ‘life is a game with many rules but no referee’

After Grenfell Tower arrests and party politics: ‘life is a game with many rules but no referee’

by | 16th, June 2017

After Grenfell Tower the media and politicians are demanding that we find someone to blame. The horror invites many questions about the 24-storey tower block’s cladding, sprinklers, fire-alarms, house building, the cost and availability of new homes, social-housing, gentrification that makes you look at London and wonder where the working class and poor live in the shiny, super-pricey city – where cladding Tower blocks rather than rebuilding them is a priority – and the ‘decanting’ of poorer people living in crowded accommodation on land that has soared in value following policies like the Urban Task Force with its mantra to build up not out.

 

criminal grenfell

 

As the acid stench of burning permeates the air and the painful, painstaking work of finding and identifying the victims continues, a cynical cloud has seeped in. The clamour to blame and make arrests quickly, to play party politics over the destruction of so many lives is nasty and limiting.

 

David Lammy Grenfell

 

touched on this race to blame yesterday, noting a section of former US poet laureate Josef Brodksy’s speech to students in 1988. This is more from that address to the graduating class. You can read it all here. It’s a terrific read. In six rules for successful living, Brodsky words on politicians and blame resonate.

3.) Try not to set too much store by politicians — not so much because they are dumb or dishonest, which is more often than not the case, but because of the size of their job, which is too big even for the best among them, by this or that political party, doctrine, system or a blueprint thereof. All they or those can do, at best, is to diminish a social evil, not eradicate it. No matter how substantial an improvement may be, ethically speaking it will always be negligible, because there will always be those — say, just one person — who won’t profit from this improvement. The world is not perfect; the Golden Age never was or will be. The only thing that’s going to happen to the world is that it will get bigger, i.e., more populated while not growing in size. No matter how fairly the man you’ve elected will promise to cut the pie, it won’t grow in size; as a matter of fact, the portions are bound to get smaller. In light of that, or, rather, in dark of that — you ought to rely on your own home cooking, that is, on managing the world yourselves — at least that part of it that lies within your reach, within your radius.

Yet in doing this, you must also prepare yourselves for the heart-rending realization that even that pie of yours won’t suffice; you must prepare yourselves that you’re likely to dine as much in disappointment as in gratitude. The most difficult lesson to learn here is to be steady in the kitchen, since by serving this pie just once you create quite a lot of expectations. Ask yourself whether you can afford a steady supply of those pies, or would you rather bargain on a politician? Whatever the outcome of this soul-searching may be — however much you think the world can bet on your baking — you might start right away by insisting that those corporations, banks, schools, labs and whatnot where you’ll be working, and whose premises are heated and policed round the clock anyway, permit the homeless in for the night, now that it’s winter.

But more than that, this. It’s one of the most motivating pieces of advice I’ve read.

5. ) At all costs try to avoid granting yourself the status of the victim. Of all the parts of your body, be most vigilant over your index finger, for it is blame-thirsty. A pointed finger is a victim’s logo — the opposite of the V-sign and a synonym for surrender. No matter how abominable your condition may be, try not to blame anything or anybody: history, the state, superiors, race, parents, the phase of the moon, childhood, toilet training, etc. The menu is vast and tedious, and this vastness and tedium alone should be offensive enough to set one’s intelligence against choosing from it. The moment that you place blame somewhere, you undermine your resolve to change anything; it could be argued even that that blame-thirsty finger oscillates as wildly as it does because the resolve was never great enough in the first place.

After all, a victim status is not without its sweetness. It commands compassion, confers distinction, and whole nations and continents bask in the murk of mental discounts advertised as the victim’s conscience. There is an entire victim-culture, ranging from private counselors to international loans. The professed goal of this network notwithstanding, its net result is that of lowering one’s expectations from the threshold, so that a measly advantage could be perceived or billed as a major breakthrough. Of course, this is therapeutic and, given the scarcity of the world’s resources, perhaps even hygienic, so for want of a better identity, one may embrace it — but try to resist it. However abundant and irrefutable is the evidence that you are on the losing side, negate it as long as you have your wits about you, as long as your lips can utter “No.” On the whole, try to respect life not only for its amenities but for its hardships, too. They are a part of the game, and what’s good about a hardship is that it is not a deception. Whenever you are in trouble, in some scrape, on the verge of despair or in despair, remember: that’s life speaking to you in the only language it knows well. In other words, try to be a little masochistic: without a touch of masochism, the meaning of life is not complete. If this is of any help, try to remember that human dignity is an absolute, not a piecemeal notion, that it is inconsistent with special pleading, that it derives its poise from denying the obvious. Should you find this argument a bit on the heady side, think at least that by considering yourself a victim you but enlarge the vacuum of irresponsibility that demons or demagogues love so much to fill, since a paralyzed will is no dainty for angels.

Regulation is lifeless without the will to make things better.



Posted: 16th, June 2017 | In: Google News, News, Politicians Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink