Towards the end of next month I will hit 65, which in Britain at present for men is when we are eligible to collect our State pension. They are, of course, trying to raise it so that we all slog our guts out and drop dead at work before having a chance to retire or collect our pension. This in itself is a very short-sighted policy, and a completely false economy when millions of younger people with families are unemployed and living on State benefits. Why employ people over 65 or over 70 who will probably by then be on higher salaries than much younger people, and who must surely get less efficient as the infirmities of old age creep in? I retired at 62, but already I was very deaf and couldn’t hear visitors on Reception very well. Nor was I familiar with modern technology, so when a visitor complained of leaving his Blackberry in Reception I started looking for a basket of the fruit!
But I digress from what I intended to be the main point of this blog: that our perspectives and priorities in life tend toÂ change as we grow older.
In my youth I was very active in the peace movement and in leftwing politics. I went on loads of demonstrations, got myself arrested several times, and thru the Labour and Communist parties thought I could help to change the world for the better.
The realization that this was probably impossible came very gradually. Disillusionment with one’s lifetime ideals are not easy to accept, but I finally had to admit that Communism was a rather utopian dream and that the 20th Century experiments with the first stage of Socialism, while they achieved a great deal, were seriously marred by corruption. The system became distorted when a new privileged ruling class manipulated it for their own benefit, and turned what was meant to be the Dictatorship of the Proletariat into a Dictatorship of the Bureaucracy which was very difficult to reform.
I still think they should have tried harder after the events of 1989/91 instead of abandoning Socialism altogether; a multi-party form of Socialism with rival candidates/Socialist parties competing in elections would have been a logical solution. Expecting the masses to govern themselves directly thruÂ a one-party system or one-party led coalition was hopelessly optimistic and gave opportunists, careerists, criminal elements and corrupt politicians a field day – a ready-made dictatorship to grab control of so that Socialism would provide the basic necessities for the masses, but with great privileges and perks reservedÂ for the new ruling class in control.
So disillusioned with traditional Marxism-Leninism as the way to a new utopia, I searched for new ideas. I still retained my belief in the peace movement and the usefulness of campaigning and demonstrations. It seemed thru the nuclear disarmament movement we had achieved much: a Test Ban Treaty, the scrapping of Cruise missiles, probably the extreme reluctance of politicians/the military to use nuclear weapons in any wars since the end of the Second World War. We stirred up public opinion and made people aware of the disastrous consequences of testing nuclear weapons in the atmosphere or even underground, and the even more disastrous consequences were they ever used. Chernobyl and Three Mile Island just emphasized the dangers from radiation alone.
The moment of disilusion, however, came with the 2003 London march against a second war on Iraq just before it was, in fact, launched to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein and grab his oil supplies. (Other dictators were, of course, left in place either because they had no oil, or were already letting the West exploit their supplies, as with the Saudi Arabian feudal dictatorship.)
It is estimated that this was the biggest protest march ever held in the UK, with about two milion people on the demonstration. Even the lower estimates topped a million. Yet Tony Blair’s government completely ignored this mass turnout of people on the streets, and acted as the faithful U.S. poodle/puppet he was by not only endorsing the Bush administration’s second war on Iraq, but sending British troops. At least Harold Wilson, whilst verbally supporting America’sÂ immoral and foolhardyÂ war in Vietnam, never committed British troops there. But, Blair probably thought, look what happened to Wilson – apparently forced to resign.
So disillusioned with the effectiveness of political parties or demonstrations as a means of change, I am in my 60s now at a loss to know how we create a better world. The British Labour Party is no longer even committed by its Constitution to Socialism, and the old Communist Party has split into many splinter groups, none of which seem to have analyzed what went wrong with the 20th Century experiments and learnt the appropriate lessons.
There is therefore really no political party I feel I can vote for, or at least none that stands a chance ofÂ forming/joining a governmentÂ under our extremely unfair electoral system. Voting for the Green Party candidate seems a very weak and pointless exercise when they stand no chance whatsoever of forming a government or even joining a coalition. At least not until we have electoral reform in this country.
As is natural when we get older, our thoughts tend to turn to mortality and contemplating the end of our lives and that of our elders and contemporaries. This was brought home to me at a relatively early age when my life-partner died – he was 48 and I was 46. But I’d had experienced deaths of people close to me at a much earlier age. Apart from my grandparents and various friends and relations who were much older than me, a girl I was fond of died aged about 13 of Asian flu and my best friend, Michael, was killed in a road accident and died in hospital on my 15th birthday, he was only 14 still. So our mortality has always been very real to me.
However in my 60s, and since my partner died, I have been increasingly conscious of and interested in the question of survival and the afterlife. Now many will regard this as trading my Socialist and anti-militarist beliefs for ‘pie in the sky when we die’. I have come to believe, however, that the evidence for survival is overwhelming, and the implications are enormous.
I now see life here on Earth as a learning process, so I don’t regret anything I’ve done, and even great political disasters can be beneficial if we learn from them and don’t repeat the mistakes. One thing I’ve learnt is that we have to be very careful as terrible crimes and atrocities can be committed by people who started out trying to right past injustices and present unfairness.
I’m sure Hitler and Mussolini started out in this way. Hitler saw the injustices imposed upon Germany after the First World War in the Treaty of Versailles, and by all accounts Mussolini was originally a pacifist, but then decided Italy needed a new ‘Roman Empire’.
Stalin started out as a revolutionary seeking to create a better world under Communism, but like Hitler and Mussolini became drunk on absolute power and also paranoid about losing it to rivals, hence the terrible purges which killed many genuine Socialists and Communists and left a parasitic ruling clique in power. He may have made the Soviet Union into a great power to rival the USA, but ultimately like the Hitler-Mussolini-Hirohito alliance it eventually collapsed disastrously.
So the lesson I have learnt is that spirituality and progress in this world go hand-in-hand. Evolution not revolution is the key to everything. Try to change things too suddenly, or enforce change before people are spiritually ready for it, and it will end in failure or even disaster, sometimes make things even worse than they were before.
Looking over the history of the world since civilization began, we can see a gradual improvement. Atrocities, wars, violence, crimes, etc. still happen of course but no longer do so-called Christians and their churches torture hereticsÂ and burnÂ them alive at the stake. Gays in Western countries at least are no longer criminalized for their sexual orientation/practices. Women now have the vote and more opportunities if not complete equality with men.
Some other areas of the world still have to catch up; Sharia law in parts of the Islamic world and fundamentalist Islamic terrorism is barbaric, but no more so than so-called Christian barbarity in times past. We are all at different levels of spiritual development, but at least here in the West and many places elsewhere people are gradually becoming more enlightened.
However while we still engage in wars to make arms and oil companies profitable, and governments still threaten millions with nuclear weapons, we cannot be complacent. The last World War showed how close civilization is still to complete anarchy and barbarism. The idea that just 71 years ago the so-called civilized world could start killing not just young conscript soldiers from various countries, but bombing completely innocent children and other civilians, even dropping atomic bombs on two Japanese cities, is just unbelievable. Yet it happened, and could so easily happen again if we are not careful, and a nuclear war would be disastrous for both our spiritual development and life on this already environmentally damaged planet.
What is encouraging to me, however, is the vast growth of knowledge of things spiritual, greatly helped by the Internet. The Internet is a wonderful thing as it is uncensored in most countries, and so can spread ideas unfiltered by government and other moderators. Of course it can spread bad ideas promoting crime and terrorism, and what effect is access to unlimited pornography and violent scenesÂ having on children and some others?
On the other hand, orthodox religious beliefs which have caused such mayhem and conflict in the world are slowly giving way to New Age knowledge about the true nature of spirituality and the afterlife. Many also realize that even in our own Universe we are not alone; the evidence for UFOs being overwhelming.
In short, the purely materialist view of the world, and the idea that we have nothing but a short life on planet Earth to consider, is becoming very much ‘old hat’ and outdated. Not just becauseÂ of the overwhelming evidence for the afterlife dimensions thru Spirit communications, Out-of-the-Body and Near-Death Experiences, etc., all helped greatly by the Internet. But also the parallel revelations of Quantum Physics which finally dispel a traditional materialist/rationalist view of the Universe.
In a universe or multi-verse where sub-atomic particles can change into waves when not being observed, can be in two or more places thousands of miles apart at the same time, etc. our view or ‘reality’ is seriously challenged. Already science has taught us that nothing we see around us, or indeed we ourselves, is really solid, but is composed mainly of empty space. Therefore the materialist world we sense around us is a total illusion.
Moreover, as Quantum theory and Survivalist/Spiritualist/New Age evidence tell us, there is every reason to suppose that many other dimensions/realities exist, and indeed all science now supports this concept. There is plenty of room, between sub-atomic particles, for other orders of matter to exist, invisible to us by normal means.
Many scientists, inventors, mediumsÂ and others have tried to ‘tune in’ to at least some of these other dimensions/realities/vibrations with astounding success. These are documented and accessible via the Internet if you know where to look or what to Google.
So, yes, as I get older I am very much aware of the mortality of myself and others, but also that death is not the end but just a transition from one stage of existence to another, that I along with everthing else in the multi-verse is slowly evolving, and that this is an endless process because, subject of last blog, timeless infinity is the ultimate reality.