Today’s rant prompt was a story about motorway speed limits. To reduce pollution a reduced maximum speed, from 70 to 60 mph is being considered.
Since I find highways slightly less interesting than examining my toenail clippings I will instead focus on how this story acts as a great example of how this country tears itself in half by remaining stubbornly and deliberately blind to how things are.
We put increasing pressure on ourselves to get everywhere faster, do everything quicker and we have made profit the goal in almost all things. By such means the pressure on people increases and they find themselves HAVING to get to meetings, then home for the school run, then back to the office to finish some urgent reports, then up early and do it again… All the while it feels, for many, as if they are always late for everything.
On the flip-side we have repeating debates about road-rage, speeding and people who talk on mobiles while driving.
This latest measure is an attempt to combat pollution not speed, but it remains true that most of the drivers on the road, even the slower ones, are on their way to or from work. More than this, many are driving as work, such as couriers and hauliers. So the majority of traffic is there not for leisure or necessity, but to keep one business or another in profit.
In the simplest terms, we cannot have it both ways. We cannot infect the world with liberal capitalism and a monomaniacal obsession with money and profit and not thereby create haste, pressure and a need to hurry up.
We cannot make and sell cars for no-one to drive, or eradicate local production without creating a need to import. If we market unnecessary products as essential we must expect to have to deliver them. Having created a society that has forgotten how to delay gratification, we cannot be surprised when everyone wants their everything NOW!!
So we invent the conditions for our own unhappiness. Either we can’t have what we want, or we’ll choke ourselves to death delivering it.
Such is a perfect exemplar of modern life. As my recent post suggested, money is a fiction we have all bought into – and by doing so created appalling suffering for the poor, and pathetic suffering for those who crave and sometimes kill for the affluent dream. We want both – money and equality – but one precludes the other.
We want speed and safety, money and equality, plastic surgery and to be not judged by our looks, an endless supply of good television, musicians to be delighted that we get their music for free. Everywhere we manufacture conflict – wanting two things that cannot both be. So we are the architects of our own suffering.
Maybe you can throw some more examples at me: what else do we do which shoots our own desires or wants in the foot?
Meanwhile – since few of us can afford to reach the dizzy heights where money can insulate us from life’s vicissitudes, maybe we can instead audit ourselves and find out what illusions we are feeding that only serve to split us or make us miserable.