Thursday, March 01, 2018

the individual versus the collective


Walking through the deserted streets this afternoon, people ghostly in the driving snow, no buses and very few cars. It felt as if the city had come to a stop.

A pause maybe that was time to think.

Some people have been angry with the council for the city coming to a halt in the face of weather than in other parts of the world would be incorporated into the daily routine.

But then our enforced immobility is one of the consequences of our reluctance to think of ourselves in a collective way.

We are still too much in thrall to Mrs. Thatcher's saying that "there is not such thing as society".

We prioritize individual enrichment over public good.

And so there were people last night who ended up having to spend the night stuck in their cars on the Edinburgh by-pass.

All of which rather perfectly illustrates the inadequacy of individualism in the face of the changes we are living through.

We are afraid of these changes, afraid of the future that demands them. So there is always a temptation to retreat behind the Brexiteers' futile walls.

The wise woman who taught me to interpret dreams used to say that if we dreamt of travelling in a car we were dreaming in the individual sphere; whereas if we dreamt of being in a bus... The word 'bus', she reminded us, came from the Latin word "omnibus" which means all or everyone. So dreams involving bus travel were happening in the collective.

There's a video going round just now of a car skidding out of control and coming to a halt right in the path of an advancing bus. Disaster looks unavoidable; but at the last moment the bus does an incredibly skilful manoevre and avoids the car with inches to spare.

I wonder if the car was driven by a man.

Because, as it turns out, the bus was driven by a woman.
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