Shitting ourselves “There is an ill wind blowing, Watson…” A.

Conan-Doyle In ancient Mesopotamia, Canaanites were required to offer up their children to the god Molech. People in Thailand and other poor countries – some of them Western – are doing the same to the god Mammon, albeit unwilling by most accounts, and we’ve known about this for some time. Brits and Americans would never dream of doing that. We use scented quilted tissues to wipe our arses. And that means we’re soft, eh? Or sophisticated. We have evolved beyond primal urges by good breading. I mean, what would you have to cauterise to do that with your own children? You’d have to be sick, wouldn’t you? The ill wind that’s been blowing across the UK since the eighties has intensified to the point where we should be wearing masks. Its suffocating fumes are unabated and its fog mind-altering. It will ultimately lead us all to sacrifice the lives of our own children, if the sickest amongst us don’t get their paws on them first. It is a prolonged downward trend that constitutes one of the biggest single contributors to mental illness and it is epidemic. It is a kind of mental illness itself. This wind of change has been sown into every corner of society and we are now reaping the whirlwind. Its whirlwind, driven by those who have the most power, will give them everything they want in the short term – more than they could ever possibly want or need – but it is unhealthy for them in the process and will ultimately kill them and their future generations. Already, we’re wondering if those that are here now will last. Or it might just ruin them or their families in a slow luxurious death, or make them an instant target, or by some sudden twist of fortune to contemplate suicide for the first time, because there can be no other life for them. They will not change because they see no wrong in it. They are mentally unsound and their actions affect everyone else, which is why mental illness is on the increase. And what do they want all this money, these belongings, this land, this power, for? What for? To be stronger? To be different from, better than, others? To show that they have the power to do it, expand their friendships, gain respect? Stand out from the crowd? Gather similarly-minded people around them to protect each other? Wear similar clothes and join clubs, go on red-carpet marches to look down on everyone who is inferior? Have gullible unimaginative people gawk up at them as their idols? This isn’t my indignation or sour-grapes, it’s a serious question. What are they going to do with it all once they’ve got it? Build new schools, new hospitals? Reputation and a place in history is everything, though, isn’t it darlings? “What was that you said? … Oh, how very interesting, and… and who are you, exactly? … Oh, I’ve never heard of you. Anyway, as I was saying…” Yep, we’re all for equality. They could join the ranks of rejects at the click of a couple of fingers, simply when their denial ceases to function. The writing is on the Wall Street billboards and they’re pretty much desperately trying to avoid the inevitable repercussions. But not trying anywhere near hard enough. Leaders can impose this deadly virus on their own people and other nations, then go home and face family members over the dinner table. How does that work? Reconstituting human prejudices and deceit inseminates government, society and commerce. It is effectively prejudice against oneself. A form of mental illness. It is social, political and institutionalised denial. Some who now show symptoms of, receive treatment for, or have come through a level of mental illness could be our saviours. Why? Not that they should be running the country, but because they have usually (not always) seen the unreliable side of the staple principles we base our lives on. They have experienced the appalling state it can leave us in and the counter-productive attitudes and treatments that then strips them of the little power they have left. They may also know good experiences that made getting through easier. And mental illness is actually quite honest. It obtusely warns us of things that are wrong, wrong with our situation or wrong with the way we’re treating

each other, or the way we’re treating ourselves; especially things that we have ignored or that are actually unseen. Like the dog mentioned in the opening chapter. Acceptance of realities we have little control over is a fact of life. Acceptance of personal realities and the consequences of how we’re treated is a matter of capacity and eventually choice. But with issues that affect our mentality, we neglect the things we do have a measure of control over and choice regarding until things develop beyond our control. Not that control is the only objective and that we can control everything. But there is a difference between that and not investing in what is needed to prepare us to deal with the most taxing issues that are more widespread, since unconstrained selfishness became in vogue. We often acknowledge that only after superhumanly attempting to hold on to something we couldn’t possibly hold on to, in the first place. Neglect, denial, or fear pushes us to that point, then when the control passes to someone else, the nightmare begins because our feelings, our wishes become secondary to carer’s and care services inhibitions. The causes of mental illness, particularly various forms of depression, anxiety and stress, are well documented and have a source that is common to all people. Yet, what we prefer to do in society is brush people like that aside and label them defective, so that we can isolate ourselves from any such prospect. If you ask anyone who has not suffered an episode of mental illness, what would happen to them if they did, they won’t be able to tell you. Even if they’re able to research it, contemplating their personal outcome with the restrictive options that are available and with few positive accounts to go off, compounds that fear. Apart from expanding a range of lateral nonintrusive approaches; what we should be doing, from school age, is educating our children using their language and the interests they are passionate about, to dispel the stigmas and prejudices. It isn’t enough to tackle it in history and social studies from text books and set examples. They need to see it in operation around them, in their daily lives. They need to see how events can impact on their mentality, how it can change for better or worse and how differences can have positive references. They need to be taught by people who have experienced the extremes and understand them, not from people who don’t. And we need to make it easier for them to speak about these things, routinely, in a respectful, easy, enjoyable environment. People who acknowledge they are mentally ill often have no choice but to learn to endure despite their restricted capacity, or do something about it. But those who see nothing wrong with their thinking, or justify unsound thinking, are insensitive as to its effect on themselves and to others. It isn’t necessarily evil, or unjustified, but someone else will usually have to suffer it. So, what? Definitions of strength and weakness don’t always fit the stereotypical precepts we base them on. Mature, considerate, people know this. Symptoms of any developing mental difficulty usually go unspotted. People who are struggling with something mentally and emotionally usually have to become skilled at covering it up. If you don’t speak up, or defend yourself, or pick people up on things when they’re out of line, you’re seen as weak. When you can deliberately impose your opinion without listening, because your ego won’t take no for an answer, we call it assertive and people get training to become it. I’m all for both, but quiet people in committees and support groups are advised, being listened to is contingent on doing a course. If you surpass at it, you can even qualify as ‘callous’ which derives obviously from ‘callus.’ This is how calluses work – take weak spot and apply generously thick hard skin until sensitivity is diminished. This will make you stronger. We hold back so much, in the UK, when it’d be much healthier to let stuff out in some easy legitimate process. You can complain if you like. You can complain until you’re blue in the face. In some areas you get phone numbers for all sorts of complaints, but you try getting through, then getting any sense. Just try complaining that someone has stolen your wheelie-bin, or that drunks are keeping you awake all night. See how far you get. We all know the tactics companies use to make themselves look responsible but deflect any attempts to hold them to it. The people who are

promoted are those that are skilled at side-stepping the amount of services that should be delivered, not implementing them. Complaining is looked down upon in our culture, unless your on Trisha. We see people complain legitimately in unison for things, like a speed bump on roads where there have been numerous child fatalities, only to be ignored for years. If current trends in our economy lead to any kind of uprising, the government will want it to be against the ‘underclass’ rather than against them. If this was France, there’d be a general strike, at least. They beheaded their aristocracy for less. But that isn’t the British way. We prefer martyrdom and its intrinsic oppression, hopelessness, disbelief and increased depression. We prefer to hold it all in, because we’re strong. ‘We can do it, we can do it. We’re not savages.’ Anything but that. No, think how hard people have fought for the rights we have in this country and replacement of some arcane laws. All that collective and individual effort and expense. That counts for nothing, now. We’ve also established a network of help through people who do stuff for nothing, simply because no official body was prepared to tackle a desperate need. That counts for little to this government. They will laud it, sure, but New Labour has pursued a policy of letting people depend upon it, in order to reduce their services. They also reduce their support of it, practically and financially. It is usually people who are not motivated by commercial considerations that go that step further, for the good of others, but the well motivated and dogged voluntary sector is so pressured by funding and government cut-backs, many new initiatives are short-lived and longstanding ones are struggling and downsizing. Call me a cynic, but I wonder if they receive the congestion charge bill for participating in the Lord Mayor’s Show? It would surprise no one. The government seem to have better things to spend their money on, like lavish arse-licking internal awards ceremonies, than helping those who help people out of the shit. It’s like a man who wears a tuxedo but doesn’t wipe his arse when he goes to the loo. This is why the analogy of shitting is so profoundly fitting. As we saw graphically in a previous chapter - if you hold crap in long enough, in the end it’ll spill in a way you kind of don’t least expect but just hope you’re not in its way, when it happens. We usually cannot avoid it, but the slippery characters that cause it usually do. They have no determination to keep it in; no compulsion about letting it out for their instant self-gratification and woe betides anyone who stands in their way. They’re unconcerned about what is actually healthy for them and less concerned about anyone else, so ‘look out because I want it all and I want it now and if you’ve got it, then don’t think I’m gonna let that stand in my way.’ And that’s seen as clever. Mendelssohn accepting his award from the man he just shopped is seen as a very clever man. How clever is that? Most people are not like that and have no aspirations to be that way. Whether they profess to be religious, moral, proud, or not, most people have a measure of decency. Or they just want to feed their families. Contrast all this with the way government treats the amount of individual kindness and dedication that goes into charitable causes, like the Royal National Lifeboat Institute, the Citizens Advice Bureau, numerous care lines, rescue services and hospices that help people to die in comfort and dignity. They slog away day-in day-out, year-in year-out, without Sir Bob or Bono organising a gig. If you survive long enough you might get a slap on the back; but I wonder how many people would become politicians if they had to do what those volunteers have to do; if they had to go repeatedly cap-in-hand to the National Lottery and Pudsey, just to keep afloat. The mental illness I’m talking about, in society, politics and institutions, is far more insidious than cancer and doesn’t show itself without some subcutaneous scrutiny. Unlike any other mental illness, it can be caught off others. What enables it to take hold and grow? Someone once said “the only thing it takes for evil to grow is for a few good [people] to stand by and do nothing.” Why would good people do that? Why have they done that in the past? There are a number of common factors. ___