Tuesday 18 November 2014

Marley's Meliorism

Disgusting...this mindless and no-end-in-sight hatred killing in the Middle East is deeply disturbing, depressing and in total contravention of all we are trying to achieve in many parts of the rest of this great world we must share - peaceful and cohesive living side-by-side for the eventual realisation that we are all but hurtling towards one unified and inevitable mortal end..must we truly exaggerate the shortened time and despair that awaits many of us by enraging our inner souls against those that do not believe in what we believe, effecting pain, sorrow and unnecessary hardship? Uggghhh..so frustrating when for but just a moment's pause..one sane period of thought..a quick count-to-ten...and so much might be different.

The violence on display across Jerusalem in the last few weeks has not made the headlines until today - there have been tit-for-tat killings on either side, as tensions mount over the future of what are some of the holiest sites to all three of Christians, Muslims and Jews - a flammable trio in any scenario, let alone in a claustrophobically cramped and historically irrational hilly town. The horrific attacks perpetrated by all sides in the run-up to today's shocking killing during Jewish prayers by distraught and revenge-bound Palestinians, possibly the spark of countless unfortunate and most likely futile deaths to come. Easy for us to sit here and wonder at the calm and capitalist grandeur of environments such as London and New York, nibbling at the charity self-fulfilling events to placate the uneasy feeling that we really should be doing more, donating to the likes of BBC's Children In Need extravaganza, downloading Band Aid's 30yr anniversary "Do They Know It's Christmas" (probably just to get Bob Geldof of our backs) and other altruistically intended motions, aiding to satiate the nagging feeling for just long enough that we've done our part to make an orphan's life easier, prevented Ebola spreading or brought a smile to someone, somewhere..desperately in need of one. Nothing can replace getting out there physically (as someone I know impressively did last week) and helping for real though... not even writing about it on an eloquent blog!

There is a word that I recently learnt (yes, even those above the age of 35 can be taught new tricks) "Meliorism" - meaning a belief that the world tends to improve and that humans can aid its betterment. Excuse me? If only..sorry but any cursory look at our current state of affairs would superbly and indubitably turn a MeliorISm into a MeliorISN'T. If only there was some way to make the masses realise once and for all, away from the clutches of overzealous and deceptively selfish religious "leaders", that there is a far greater and insofar narrowly recognised or deciphered reason for our presence on this green land - even Hollywood gets closer than most in expressing this, the recent megablockbuster Interstellar (nope..I haven't seen it yet...and yep..I must be the only one left that hasn't..will rectify soon..allow me to use for creative purposes anyway please), portraying a unified race leaving its troubles behind in pursuit of solving slightly larger issues. Crazy isn't it?...Hollywood actually making us think. A little closer to reality, yet still using space to elicit wonder and stoke ambition, a brief example of what the greater characters (scientists) of humanity may achieve was expressed with the landing of a probe on a comet for the first time in our shoddy and violent history (likened to landing a fly on a speeding bullet - incredible!). Sadly, even that great feat suffered a bumpy landing and for now we've lost contact with the probe..however none of this achievement's profound sense of progress and congratulations have lost communication with every young child watching in awe, briefly being reminded what marvels may await their futures. Truly inspiring.

In the midst of all this darkness, an announcement that Bob Marley's estate have entered into an agreement with a private equity firm to launch the world's first global Marijuana brand.."Marley Natural"..promoting the number one historical and recognisable connoisseur of what he used to call "God's herb", rapidly becoming legal retail fodder across large swathes of the US (70% of the US population now live in a state where Marijuana may be legally acquired) tapping into the, for now, $200bn illicit sales market..ching ching those first growers. Apparently stir-it-up-Bob embraced the herb as it was written in the Bible....ok..I retract what I said about useless religious leadership above! 

Jokes aside, a little more smoking herbs and less smoking guns would help make an incredible difference to the lives of many across some of the more "frustrated" parts of the world...the immortal words of the herb man himself would be well-repeated.."One Love".

Saturday 1 November 2014

Fight the Fear

Ironically fitting for the horror-themed weekend that Halloween unleashes upon the Western world, the sad news of the fatal crash suffered by Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, the death of a crew member jarring into focus the sheer audacity and danger of the attempt to bring space travel to the masses, is not only a reminder of the importance of such endeavours but also helps recognise that there are those out there taking risks, pushing boundaries to the limit and ensuring man continues to strive forward, all in the name of innovation and our inherent desire to explore the further reaches of our capabilities.

This extremely unfortunate occurrence should not stop Branson and his team from continuing to do what they dream to accomplish. It is because of risk-takers like Branson and those pushing themselves at the risk of death that we can stand proud as a race and take heart that we are never content with what we have achieved - other great modern-day pioneers taking "moon-shots" (see previous articles) such as Larry Page of Google fame, Elon Musk electrifying us all with his cool cars and increasing numbers of tech entrepreneurs-turned-philanthropic-explorers, add to the delight of continual achievement and a refusal to accept the status quo. No, rather than be frightened to continue, or cowed into pulling back the scale of such projects, now is the time to push on and make proud the memories of those that sacrifice for such undertakings. Fight the fear. Onwards and upwards.

Central Bankers working both-ends-of-the-monetary-easing-candle may be impressive to some (yes, the Japanese certainly appear heroic at present, unleashing further QE resulting in massive gains for equity markets), yet no one can deny that those hurtling towards the outer reaches of the known Universe or testing the very limits of comprehended aeronautic physics, slightly put those pampered bankers - sitting comfortably in their Uber Luxes as they iPad read whilst shuttling from conference to conference - to immeasurable shame!

On a Halloween weekend where the spiritual, pagan and now incredibly commercialised-collide..when exactly did FOMO of trick-or-treat take over London??..the horrors of such set-backs on projects capable of taking us to the next step of an ongoing tech-revolution...imagine flying through the stratosphere from London to Los Angeles in 3hours!..yes, that's what Virgin Galactic will ultimately try to achieve..allow us to once again re-evaluate the truly important from the simply fleetingly entertaining. If man had shied away from reaching beyond the comfort zone in the face of fatal adversity, we would likely not enjoy the fruits of all that surrounds us, all too easily now taken for granted. Who 100yrs ago would have imagined you could zoom across the skies from Singapore to Los Angeles in safety and comfort? Will we look back fondly 50yrs from now and pity those earlier travellers that had to sit for endless hours before reaching their destination, replaced by a literally a short 'hop' across Continents. Who knows what the future holds? The future is indeed a mystery yet what is known for sure, is that without sacrifice and seemingly 'bonkers' visionaries, we are doomed to the death-knell of mediocre satisfaction. 

As we dance and ghoul our way through a plethora of fancy-dress costumes…thank you ladies for all those lovely She-Devil Bikinis..take a moment to think and reflect on how far we have come from those original pagan festival days, where we believed a flat-Earth was the centre of the Universe, realise that without risk-takers and the perennially adventurous, we would probably still be howling at the moon.