Falling off of the Stoic Wagon

(and why it’s the fault of politicians!)

I woke up today and found myself moving quickly from post slumber comfort to agitated and also broke my own rule of no screen straight after waking (unless it is Baby Spam from NZ) and no news first thing too.

I do follow politics, of course I do, it affects every part of our lives so is far too important to ignore. I know many people choose to bury their head in the sand, or only believe the happy propaganda pushed out by certain news media. Others wallow in the imaginary happy world of TV’s moving wallpaper, like Love Island, Masked Dancer and the myriad other candy floss served up these days, and if that is their choice good for them. I find the BBC’s Gardeners World the equivalent to an hours meditation even though I am a hopeless gardener.

As a follower of Stoic principles I can normally remain calm about what is happening in the world. This doesn’t mean that I don’t care nor does it mean that I don’t fear for my families future when I see things like a war in Europe, however I can stop myself falling into depression or becoming stressed or obsessed with the news. I am able to stand back and asses what I can affect and what I can’t and accept what I can’t change.

This week though, and for a few weeks, the UK has been on the brink of economic tragedy, with an energy crisis as much caused by bad forward planning as it is energy markets and it is certainly not caused by the Ukrainian war as much as politicians would like to pretend, that’s just opportunism.

Whilst this has been happening, the UK has had a zombie government whilst its ruling party had a drawn out and obscenely self indulgent leadership election. We now have a Prime Minister implementing policies that were not in the Conservative manifesto, and love him or hate him Boris Johnson at least won a mandate from the electorate, the new leader Liz Truss has no such mandate.

With all of this going on I found myself drawn unconsciously into the fray on Twitter (everyone is angry on Twitter) and sharing posts about the dire situation on Facebook……naughty Stuart, I have been the exact opposite of a Stoic the past few days, maybe even weeks.

This has dawned on me today as I grumbled my way through breakfast again and when it did I went straight back to my Stoic book of wisdom, The Daily Stoic. Facebook and Twitter are now banned from my mobile phone again, I still want to see what my friends are up to and keep up with my fellow Brain Tumour Warriors on the Facebook groups, but am now rationed to an hour on our PC which requires effort to boot up and sign into, putting a natural barrier between me and the anger zone. I am going back to meditating once a day to clear and calm my mind (a habit that I had let slip for a few weeks) and continuing my journal, which I had not stopped but had become less of a reflection on ‘Life the Universe and Everything’ and more of a rant.

It is so easy to slip into these stressful habits, the 24 hour news feeds are useful but can be addictive and bad for your mental wellbeing, I keep clear now.

So I am starting to feel calmer even as I write this, we have two years before the next election and the run up to that will be the time to get back into the political arguments.

I just have the simple wish that we could have governments that stopped playing politics for personal gain and started governing for the people it supposedly serves regardless of what colour rosette they wear. A bit of truthfulness wouldn’t go amiss either.

Stu x

We must not forget our ‘Key Workers’ when COVID:19 is gone

Thoughtful Stu“We have the opportunity to change our nation for the better as a result of this health disaster by making our kids realise that they can genuinely make their mark in the world, not by some vague dream of fame but by working in the key worker careers right in front of them”

Since the UK was put into lockdown, the profile of NHS workers, care workers and those people who work in the food supply chain has rightfully been raised.  The weekly ‘clap for NHS heroes’ has expanded to be a celebration of everyone who must risk catching the COVID:19 virus in order to keep the rest of fed and in the case of the NHS, keep us alive.

One thing that really concerns me is that when normality returns, and we go about our normal lives, we will forget these ‘key workers’ and go back to worshipping vacuous celebrities on Love Islands, overpaid footballers and wealthy movie stars.

In the midst of the COVID:19 crisis, with most of the population confined to their homes for the larger part of the day, we have all had the time to take a look at the world through different filter and with the noise of normal life gone, and a very clear and present danger outside our homes, we have begun to see what really matters to us.  Separated from loved ones, we can see that it is time with them that we need and miss.

It is an unescapable truth that over recent decades we have worshipped the rich and famous.  Many  kids began to believe the lie that ‘wining the X-Factor’ or some other generic talent show was a career choice, and it was not about the music, it was about the fame.

Football players have been able to earn obscene amounts of money ‘because winning is what matters’, and actors earn more money pretending to be surgeons and doctors saving lives than real surgeons and doctors could ever dream of earning for ACTUALLY saving lives.  This is a world gone mad.

We have the opportunity to change our nation for the better as a result of this health disaster by making our kids realise that they can genuinely make their mark in the world, not by some vague dream of fame but by working in the key worker careers right in front of them.

Whatever the education level of an individual, they can find their place in the health sector.  Not everyone can become a doctor, surgeon, radiographer, nurse or any of the medical careers that require qualifications, but everyone has a chance to become a care worker and although the doctors and nurses get most of the coverage, it is often care home workers or home support workers who can make the biggest change to the quality of life for the elderly or those with special care needs.

Care workers can make a real difference and be real heroes, every day, to someone.

Surely it is time to look at the world differently and reset things.  It has not been film stars, footballers, city financiers, Youtube influencers or reality stars who have been making a difference during the pandemic.

We need our young people to stop feeling that the only measure of a successful life and contribution to society is fame and money.

We have seen ordinary people do special things, from medical workers putting their lives at great risk for others, shop and food warehouse workers pulling long shifts to get food delivered, through to individuals like the now famous Captain Tom and his charitable efforts in aid of the NHS and Care Workers.  Let’s keep that better side of humanity alive after COVID:19, lets make sure our kids see the value in working in health and care sectors and we must push our politicians to keep their word and protect our amazing NHS.  Oh yes, they could also make sure that NHS workers and Care Sector workers get paid properly for the care that they give and the real difference that they make….we will be watching Boris.