"Knowledge of ourselves teaches us whence we come, where we are, and whither we are going". Jan van Ruysbroek (1293-1381).
Looking back over the last twenty years or so, I can see that the creation of this Web site has been motivated, inspired, and guided by the same Spirit that prompted van Ruysbroek to write the words quoted above and which I used in an earlier essay on Personal Responsibility. I can offer no material "proofs", but in compiling this site I have become increasingly certain that I have "lived" before in a previous body, that my soul shall survive the "death" of my present body, and that I shall "exist" again in yet another visible and tangible body in a world for whose then condition I must bear my share, however small, of responsibility.
As an elderly retired person mercifully released from personal ambition and no longer pre-occupied with the minutiae of earning a living, I am free to allow my attention to pass backwards and forwards between pondering the pressing problems of the present world and contemplating the possibility of a better world to come and of the part that we individual human beings might play in bringing it about.
There is almost certainly no single person in the world who is simultaneously so wise and so powerful that he or she can safely be entrusted with guiding the economy of the entire planet for the optimal benefit of all forms of sentient species. There is also no shortage of people who have no compunction in doing whatever they want to, careless, or perhaps just ignorant, of the possibly harmful long-term consequences for themselves or others.
However, there are also many individuals scattered about the world who can recognise when damage is being done, or proposed to be done, in their own localities or spheres of influence, and who might be able to minimise or even prevent it. I assume that all my readers are in this latter category, and my object in writing this is to persuade you resolutely to oppose developments which you have reason to believe are likely to make matters worse rather than better.
Please note that I am not advocating the use of angry words or of marches and demonstrations that may be difficult to organise and control.
Instead, after you have critically examined the economic viability of any proposal, written clear explanations of why you think it might have damaging consequences, and have either listed your reasons why it should be abandoned or have suggested alternative non-damaging means whereby those objectives you consider worthwhile might be achieved, you will be in a strong position to influence the eventual outcome by distributing your work in whatever manner you consider likely to be most cost-effective.
Don't be reluctant to send letters to your local and national media, your political representatives on responsible local Councils and, in cases of national significance, to your Member of Parliament. Get your friends, relations, and neighbours involved. And don't overlook the Internet.
People are only just beginning to realise the extent to which formerly powerless individuals have been empowered by the Internet. Developments such as Facebook and Wikileaks have shown that the Internet can be more influential, and far more immediately effective, than the ballot box.
Recent revelations about the conduct of members of both Houses of the UK Parliament have proved conclusively that elected, and even ennobled, politicians are quite capable of becoming criminals when exposed to greater temptations than they are able to resist. This leaves us with little confidence that the laws they make and the economic courses of action they advocate or support are always based on sound, conscientious, unbiased consideration of all available relevant information.
Yet few people nowadays live in public to a greater extent than politicians. We see them on TV and hear them on radio; their Parliamentary speeches and votes are recorded in Hansard which we can read on the Web. It is therefore quite easy for us to gauge the tenor of our MPs' speeches and voting records and make it known to them that if their recorded words, votes, and actions do not meet with our approval, we shall not vote for them again.
It is regrettable that even Prime Minister's Question Time has in recent years deteriorated into an occasion for slapstick comedy rather than political enlightenment. Dave Allen, a comedian who in his time set a standard of scornful sarcasm few MPs can can aspire to, once promoted the use of the word "No!" as being the most effective oral contraceptive.
I hope as the inspiration arises to extend this essay by taking my own advice and saying a reasoned "No!" to political proposals I believe to be pregnant with harmful possibilities.
If we can prevail upon our elected representatives to take our representations seriously, we may eventually be able to bring them under the sort of democratic control suggested in Cleaning the (Political) Augean Stables.
My first suggestion under this heading is that we say "No!" to High-Speed Rail.