Over the past couple of years, I’ve been reading and writing a lot about the squeezed middle, the absolute poor and the stratospheric rich. For those of us who are living in the United Kingdom – more precisely in my case, the North West of England – you won’t have failed to notice how the government and the governed simply do not see things eye-to-eye. In fact, lately at least, it’s often more a case of a tooth for a tooth.
The thing is, my natural instinct is to see life from tens of different points of view. This doesn’t make me popular – or widely read. Yesterday, I realised the true and abiding power of ranting when itiddly, a Twitter friend of mine, asked me to edit a post of his before he posted it. He’s a tribal fellow; a traditional political activist. He insults and damns and blasts the Tories at every opportunity.
I resisted the temptation to help him out with his post – rather patronisingly (in retrospect) arguing that he needed to have confidence in his writing, as well as some exposure, much more than the help of a struggling editor friend.
You can read his post here. It’s a rant and it isn’t. There’s a barely contained fury, of course, but all the time it’s an evidence-based fury. And whilst I rarely get above five or six tweets for my posts, in a very short time his had hit thirty-five (at the time of writing this post, it now reads a hundred). Exposure wasn’t what was needed on his part here; instead, it was humility on mine.
Yet it is not in my nature to rant one-sidedly, even where ranting of a kind is sometimes something I do. I would not be able, in all honesty, to write something as single-minded as the post we’re talking about. And I wish, in some way, I were able to convey the reasons why. I wish you could all see the ten or twenty different points of view I always see when I see the world.
People have, on occasions, even accused me of dancing around a subject. Perhaps, in truth, they were closer to the mark than even they realised. You dance out of engagement and concentration; a dance is a marvellous combination of emotion, precision and attitude.
That is how I see the process of writing.
Which is why I wish, perhaps by using Twitter and other social-network outputs, we could all appreciate better how each of us is perceiving the world: the pain, the glory, the happiness and joy; the misery, the fear, the certainties and hopes. From high-and-mighty governors to humble barely-surviving governed, the world would surely become a better place if only we could see it properly through each other’s eyes.
So my question must be: is anyone out there at all interested in creating a Point-Of-View Machine?
Or are you all far more interested in setting up monolithic positions of revulsion and non-cooperation?
Further reading: I wonder, quite sincerely, whether the Google Glass project (more here) – rather than inspire our fear of a final assault on all our privacies – should make us more hopeful in the ways I describe above. If the POV streams resulting from all those users were made available and accessible in a structured way, we would understand much more easily how each of us experienced life. And from that understanding, perhaps a kinder governance would emerge.
A kinder world.
A kinder species, even.
We can only hope, of course.
And, maybe, pray.