Sunday, 14 September 2008

Can Care, Won't Care

There are two things I'm going to write about, and I promise, they link up. That may not be immediately apparent.

One of them is a five minute snatch of conversation I overheard, the other is the focus of my television watching this evening. I rarely watch television really. In general, I doubt its value for money and feel that I can be entertained and informed better by reading but every now and again I'm tired and want to engage my eyes but not too much of my brain. Typically I find my brain engaging anyway and meandering off on its unheard dialogue with the throng of personalities and perspectives on TV.

There are endless of those, Amanda Platell for instance, who I think should do the dignified thing and fade graciously away, taking their inane, unsupported, bigoted, self-righteous tripe with them.

I can cope with them sounding like the idiots they are, but it worries me a little when I see someone I like who's doing something interesting who then says something totally idiotic and somehow that fragment of idiocy remains in the final cut. I am talking about Charley Boorman describing Iran as 'slightly segregated' for women and observing that it would 'definitely be better to be a man' in Iran.

I am no expert on Iran, I haven't travelled there or studied it in depth but I've watched a couple of documentaries and read and re-read Persepolis until it practically fell apart in my hands. So, nothing profound but, surely, I feel, enough to be furious at this understatement, which didn't sound particularly ironic.

I had really been enjoying watching Charley until that point, at which it struck me that a lot of people actually need to travel to be able to see further than the ends of their noses and even then they seem to lack the imagination or the honesty to see things for what they are.

It reminded me of a the crumb of eavesdropping I'd picked up when sitting at a table with my friend, her sister, their partners and another friend. This is about the other friend, who I'll call NF. That doesn't stand for National Front, but judging from what she was saying that may turn out to be entirely appropriate.

The bit I caught was her loudly pronouncing that she doesn't care about climate change or her carbon footprint or the environment in general and furthermore, neither does anyone else. I didn't ask her who she's including in 'anyone else' because it sure as anything doesn't include me, probably people whose homes have been flooded in the UK in the past couple of years, probably also millions of people living in vulnerable regions all over the world in greater poverty than I have ever experienced. After all, they're the ones who take the brunt.

She didn't care about the extra runway at Heathrow, which segued into a rant about people who receive state benefits, and how she'd be better off if she were to leave work and sign on. I seriously doubt that she'd be better off and in fact would probably get a shock if she were to do so, but this indicated that she can imagine the world beyond her own being, but didn't want to. It seemed to be in direct contrast with Charley Boorman who wanted not only to imagine the world beyond himself but see it and be in it, but then faced with expanded and fascinating borders, offered a benign and facile description of what he was seeing.

He wanted to but couldn't, she could but didn't want to.

Of course it takes major effort to change and compassion to understand the perspective of someone else as well as your own but I don't see that as an acceptable reason not to try. Even without posing this specific question I can be sure that this is how my mum feels and my best friends too. What surprised me about NF is that she's the friend of someone I hold in high esteem and I struggle to understand how that difference can be bridged.

But that's none of my business. The net result is to remind me to pursue compassion and kindness in my own life, because not only must they exist in their own right but they have to counter the accidental and deliberate myopia of others.

39 comments:

Heatha B said...

I finally found the poem that you commented on! Thank you very much, by the way. I am going to link you on my other blog, if you don't mind? It's listed in my profile, but it's evolheather.blogspot.com
I like your blog a lot!

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