As any of my friends will tell you, I’m fascinated by what makes each of us what we are and, by inference, what we are likely to become. Given my own transient early life and, subsequent, chequered career, that would seem to me to a perfectly reasonable stance. The fact that I have improved as I’ve got older and had some success at a late stage in my life, seems to me to be confirmation of what might have been in other circumstances. Perhaps that’s what drives me.
So, when I see others who seem not to be developing the potential that they have, I find that extremely frustrating. And, before we go any further, I’m of the belief that the vast majority of people have potential but often fail to realise it because “life gets in the way”, as it did for me for many years.
Now there’s a double bind in that set of circumstances, the first of which is personal and the second, social. The personal because of what any individual might have been and the second because the world would be a vastly different if all those who inhabit it did realise their potential. The Lowest Common Denominator society that I rail against would become a Highest Common Factor one and wouldn’t that be something. And please don’t tell me that this is a pipe dream as any reading of this country’s history shows that it needn’t be as does my own direct experience.
The first of these could be said to have started with the Midlands Enlightenment, a period some 200 or more years ago, during which, through self improvement, working class people bettered themselves as never before. The second of these comes from a time when I was the Director of a charity which helped people who were homeless and/or unemployed, male and female, to build their own sustainable homes. Not only were all these amazingly successful but, according to one government minister, in doing so demonstrated the “extraordinary abilities of ordinary people”. Precisely.
In addition, in another remarkable project, a group of people with special needs, with other volunteers, built their own horticultural training centre. If you care to click onto the link https://mikedaligan.com/books/the-real-big-society-and-my-part-in-it/ you will see one of my books which features this project as its front cover.
So, the next time that someone says that the world can’t be the one you dream about, tell them to read their history, explain to them that the future hasn’t yet happened and ask them if they want a better world for their children. After all is everyone strived for the highest common factor, we might actually achieve it. And wouldn’t that be something?