Thursday, 28 July 2011

Doug Ford and Margaret Atwood.

"The answers you get from literature depend on the questions you pose."
Margaret Atwood

 Doug Ford, a Toronto City Councillor, recently said that he does not know who Margaret Atwood is!

Should we be surprised? Writers are not among the most recognisable at the best of times. Writers are more long term than current attention spans can grasp. A good writer is remembered when all of the politicians and day-to-day ‘public’ figures are forgotten. A good writer comments on the times they live in and leave a record.

I think Mr. Ford’s comments reflect poorly on him and I doubt they diminish Ms. Atwood in any way. Her fans might be outraged but really – Mr. Ford has never struck me as being overly cultured. He strikes me as a representative of those among us who avoid the type of reflection that reading Ms. Atwood’s work might evoke.

For a few decades now I have believed that we are living in a ‘dark age’ – a period when all but the most expedient views were dismissed. We have gone through these before and while they are miserable times when ignorance is exploited, we do grow out of them. Each of our previous ‘dark ages’ have been followed by periods of enlightenment and advancement.

Our current ‘dark age’ has seen us bow to the ridiculous notion that ‘greed is good’, or greed is God. The champions of this notion, the Captains of Industry, now replaced by CEO’s have, over the last few years, proven how absolutely absurd the entire notion is. An old friend, Jimmy Neil, once predicted that ‘after they have eaten everything else they will turn on themselves.’ The events leading up to the crash of 2008 come to mind.

"The trickle-down theory of economics has it that it's good for rich people to get even richer because some of their wealth will trickle down, through their no doubt lavish spending, upon those who stand below them on the economic ladder. Notice that the metaphor is not that of a gushing waterfall but of a leaking tap: even the most optimistic endorsers of this concept do not picture very much real flow, as their language reveals" pg. 102."
Margaret Atwood (Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth)

I think we are all to blame for this mess. We allowed ourselves to be caught up in the nonsense and ignored the fact that we are destroying our world, environmentally, fiscally and spiritually in the name of the stability of endless expansion! We have shut out the voices crying from the wildernesses – those voices that might cause us to reflect and reconsider. Instead, we choose to listen to those voices we agree with – to reaffirm our beliefs rather than to expand our perspectives. That is a form of devolution and, as the natural world proves, a dead end.

Perhaps we should send Mr. Ford one of Ms. Atwood’s books. It couldn’t do any harm.