The Extraordinary Abilities of Ordinary People

I consider myself to be an optimist, albeit a slightly more cynical one these days when it sometimes seems as if the whole world is going to hell in a handcart. Well, as someone who lived through the 60’s, it does seem that way. Those days were ones of enormous cultural and social change. When drabness, uniformity, deference and social stratification gave way to colour, individualism, irreverence and greater social mobility; much of this reflected in fashion, music and attitudes to matters sexual.  They we good times to be alive for a new generation of working class youngsters who could dream of a different future to the ones that their parents and grandparents had had.

In this, I think it would be fair to say that I didn’t see the present that is society for today’s younger generation. I assumed, wrongly, that we had set out on a journey that really was different to, what had been, austere times. In my own way, I was naive. Yet, in my more considered frame of mind, I do still see that better world. Certainly today, the UK, for example, is considerably more liberal than it was. So why the thinking that has led to the straitjacket that governs much of the thinking (a generous word under the circumstances) that passes for current economic policy.

And that’s where I have to admit that my optimism takes a slight knock. I hadn’t allowed for the Thatcher’s, Osborne’s, Cameron’s and all the others who seem to think that paying those at the top more, in the belief that the money will trickle down, works. This, of course, based on the related belief that those at the top got there by dint of their unassailable talents and sheer hard work.  The corollary of that being that the rest of us lack those abilities.

Yet, I’ve worked on projects that demonstrated what a government minister at the time called”the extraordinary abilities of ordinary people”. So I know that their beliefs are based on a fallacy. So, why do they continue to operate as if they’re not? Perhaps it’s to do with a talent that they don’t seem to have, an imagination that the world really could be other than as they see it. And any idea as to how we might create it. It needn’t be that way and it would be a better world if it wasn’t.

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