Today I am going to bake a cake.
A three layer sponge cake, with a themed pattern running vertically through every slice.
Yes, I watched Bake Off. Of course. And this morning I heard a little of Thought for Today, with Giles Fraser reflecting on risk and driving. (And, of course, God.)
I hear endlessly from government ministers about responsibilities…ours, not theirs. We have responsibility to follow Covid guidance. Not to pass on big V to our families and others. To quarantine after returning to the UK. To isolate if told to.
Then I hear that Tory backbenchers are worked up about our rights to individual freedom are being infringed by the V guidance and, now, legal restrictions.
Care homes are refusing to allow visitors…and now being instructed by HMG.
On the radio a person explains why she broke the quarantine after returning from Majorca, where rules for distancing were supremely well followed. She decided on balance that she was safe to meet a few chosen people, but not her parents.
Where is the tipping point between the right to family life and to individual freedom to live as you choose, including taking risks, and the responsibility not to adversely affect other people?
Who should or can decide someone else’s responsibilities? Does our elected government decide for our individual good or our collective good? Do responsibilities to the collective good of ‘society’ override individual rights? Always?
Well my starting point is: do my actions adversely affect anyone else?
So if I walk around a field, am I adversely affecting the farmer who lives away from the field, out of sight, if I do no harm to the field and crop? (I believe we should have the freedom to roam everywhere, with the responsibility not to harm.)
I can walk along a cliff top path. I can drive my car. I can get up at 2 am.
Yes. But not push someone off the path, run someone over, or play devastatingly loud music. My responsibility is to not harm others.
Ok. Now, what is my government’s responsibility to me?
To use my taxes efficiently for the benefit of everyone.
To make laws wisely which balance rights, risks and responsibilities.
To not harm people, collectively or individually.
Where does that leave us in these difficulties times?
Our government was not elected by a majority of the population.
Our government is spaffing our taxes at private companies that have been proven time and again to be inefficient.
Our government is prioritising the economy over individual safety.
So, dementia, care homes, isolation, risk, freedom…
The NHS exists to provide, in return for our taxes and National Insurance, health care when we need it, ‘free’. Dementia results from disease. Those who develop this disease have a right to health care and support. But…we rarely get it in any meaningful way. Our government is not meeting its responsibility to us.
Care homes provide, literally, homes for people who towards the end of life are unable to live on their own. Residents live at home in these homes. And, note, they pay a lot for their home. Residents are alive and human. They are not dead zombies. They have a right to family life, and to take risks that do not harm others. Yet they are being denied these.
Ah, I hear you say, but visitors might bring in the V and kill others.
Yes. But not if we had the testing with rapid, reliable 24 hour results , that we could have had if our government had not spaffed our taxes at private, inefficient companies. Most of which have never done anything remotely resembling viral testing.
(Blood pressure rising…flour all over the floor)
We could isolate all over 65s? Nice 21st century apartheid, as someone cleverer than me said. Good old ageism.
We could lock students in their flats? Oops, already doing that. Great idea.
We could introduce new restrictions in hundreds of districts, with different rules, so no one understands what they can and cannot do. Yep. Done that.
Our population is completely confused. We are ‘led’ by fools who put their own interests above those who elected them. Who ignore their responsibilities to us. Who believe they are untouchable. And who daily take risks with our lives, while denying us the right to choose our own risks.
Our population has become obsessed with pro or ante Brexit, stoked up into furies by those fools whom we, for some reason, elected. And by the press, largely owned by self interested, wealthy capitalists.
We don’t trust our politicians to act virtuously, to tell truth, or to act with responsibility and respect our rights.
And we feel, and actually are, powerless to anything about it.
No wonder people are disobeying laws and rules, angry, bewildered, lost in abject powerlessness over their own lives.
People need leadership they respect and are therefore happy to give power and control to.
We are led by fools, and we are not happy.
My cake is a mess. There is no theme running through it. No nicely crafted layers.
And we are on our own in this sea of miserable mess.