Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Beyond Belief

Last night, on the drive home, I listened to the BBC’s faith-based programme Beyond Belief. In true religious fashion they undertook an exploration of ‘which made-up belief is best’, as they generally do. Yesterday it was psychotherapy versus religion. Both begin with  presumption of the fundamental fallibility of humankind – that is a starting point with which it hard to disagree – but both then proceeded to pretend they have the answers. Religion seeks to make sense of the universe and psychotherapy makes the universe all about you. Show me anybody who has been truly cured by either. Both are in the membership-for-life business, which is ironic as the healed immediately stop taking part in either treatment.

The one thing we all have in common is that we never asked to be born. Tall, handsome, athletic and intelligent, or the opposite of all those things, we are what we are and it is nobody’s job but ours to make the most of it. The majority – although I believe that majority is more slender by the year – get that and go on to live the best life they can manage, but there is a slowly expanding minority seeking reasons why it is up to others to subsidise and enhance their meagre potential. Of course, a decent society looks after those who can’t look after themselves; it’s those who won’t, or don’t that need ‘picturising’.

It can’t be a right to have a living provided for entirely by the efforts of others, yet still have a vote to decide how our society is ordered, unless your inability to contribute is actually beyond your control. And it can’t be right that while the majority pick themselves up after hardship and as the song has it, dust themselves down and start all over again, those who never take responsibility just look for another excuse. Obese, sad, drunk, lazy... none of these conditions are incurable and although you may need some support, the solution for all of them is within our own hands.

No, you don’t ‘have an addictive personality’. The food and booze and fags and dope didn’t accidentally trip up and fall into your open orifices. But how full is western media with this message today: “it’s not your fault, it’s beyond your control... society is to blame”? Far too many people expect not just a free ride but to be given a bunk back up whenever they have fallen off the wagon. Pissed, broke, fat or just plain stupid, the cure for most ills is abstention, as prescribed by society of old, much as the cure for therapy is self-awareness and a bit of common sense.

A doctor advises...

Oliver Letwin was not only right about the Bridgwater Farm riots, he was right about the prospects for underclass as well. One of the biggest causes of poor people is, of course, poor people and the same applies to the rich. As it happens the rich tend to reproduce less frequently and so the balance tips ever in their favour. As if to drive home that point, today is Fat Cat Tuesday, the day of the year on which the CEOs of FTSE 100 companies have generally earned as much this year as you will do by the end of next December. Envy will get you nowhere unless you turn that envy into ambition. And if you haven’t got it for yourself, think about those kids you have, or are going to have, who never asked to be born. 

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