Many years ago a sociologist named August Comte established the functionalist perspective, his bywords ‘Order and Progress’ still live on the Brazilian flag. As humans it seems we crave order and progress, at least I do, you answer for yourself obviously. Order, social order, a disciplined world where we all know our place and pull in the same direction. Is that a hark back to the disastrous days of totalitarianism as represented by the iconic figures of Hitler and Stalin, few remember Pol Pot though he is more recent a despot with his return to year zero and killing fields. I could go on but will not, the last few nights my wife and I have been watching the over-cautious first round matches of Euro 2012, it is quite predictable and despite my agnostic attitude to England playing, previously passionate but worn down by being constantly let down by an unimaginative FA and underperforming over-paid duck eggs, I put my flag on the car window, donned my red England shirt put my flag on the settee and settled back to be massively underwhelmed again. Some things do not change.
After the game Roy Hodgson spent a lot of time telling us how good France were, by the time he had finished I was glad we managed to grab a draw as they were so great, this was the France that exited the world cup in ignomy and disgrace two years ago. I watched the post match analysis with horror as it seemed several players had been programmed by Roy to believe the same rubbish and appeared like Stepford Wives to repeat their version of how a draw was good, we would take that etc. Well I think it must be me but I would not take that, England were unadventurous and bland, we played the eurogame and got a euro result. OK this was the first round and it can be dangerous to be rash but just as we talk ourselves further into recession we talk ourselves into unadventurism. Yes that is a new word worthy of Ingsoc newspeak, 1984 has arrived in our lives as we look at a world of appalling mediocrity. Everybody is so scared of losing they fear trying to win, we have chosen order instead of progress. Hodgson has never managed a top team, he has always been second best, a nearly man. His analysis showed that he believes that this is his true position, he has internalised it and his massive respect for the giants France reveals it to us all. The FA have their man alright.
Hitler and Stalin are the monsters of a bygone age, they fired the imagination of one of our most gifted of writers George Orwell and they both promised Order and Progress, and millions bought it, literally. The controlled minds through their manipulation of the human desire for order and progress, they promised Nirvana here on earth, socialist paradises where unloved, geddit, histories and people were extinguished from memory and therefore never existed. Newspeak is an Orwellian concept but the control of language is the control of our thoughts. Hodgson is no different from our politicians who are all speaking from the same script, carefully crafted versions of the truth. Hitler and Stalin have gone but Newspeak is with us. Watch this clip and see what you think.
Language, both verbal and non verbal is incredibly important and manipulated by all. Let us be honest and reflect on the fact that there are not just liars, politicians and football managers at it, we all do it to differing degrees. However, the three examples offered are the most cynical, do they really believe the stuff they come out with? Do they believe we believe? Unfortunately they do, see previous blog ‘Of Sexy Beast and Psychopaths’. If I watch anymore of Roy Hodgson I will probably celebrate if England draw all three matches and come home early but unbeaten. They will be greeted at Heathrow by fanatical supporters reveling in the fact that they were not beaten, the massed ranks of the risk averse will sway in unison as second placed man salutes them and his prodigy drive away in their Bentley’s. Am I bitter, of course I am.
Where is the England I know and love, an England of explorers, entrepreneurs and exhibitionist. Where is that nation proud and free that takes its calculated risks and forges ahead setting an example to all, where is that brave new world. Are we heading towards Orwell’s version of 1984 where the only picture of the future is a boot stamping on a human face forever. Well it is not so drastic as that but the fear of trying betrays something much more dangerous to my mind, that is the fear of succeeding, the fear of winning, the fear of being the best. I actually believe that we, as a nation, are becoming so risk averse that we are beginning to embrace blandness.
On a separate note I launched the 100 X 100 Club yesterday. It is a fun thing, bit of a lark for can do people. The idea is simple, you do 100 press-ups when you get up in the morning, that is it, nothing more complicated is required. Try it, it alters your whole day, one little change of habit is all it takes. I even designed a logo, here it is.
Says it all really, and yes people on Facebook from Texas, Ireland and good old blighty are joining in. It may last days or months, it may not sweep the world as the latest must do trend but it is a little experiment in changing habits. I started this over a week ago whilst on holiday in Austria whilst I was reading Charles Duhigg’s excellent book ‘The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change’. This morning as I write this blog, messages keep popping up from people who have done their 100 or are now working towards doing 100, I do sets of 25, you can do any combination you like the thing is to do.
I am interested in whether this one small change of habit leads to other changes as Duhigg describes. can doing 100 press-ups change your life? Who knows but it feels good doing them and it is one hell of a positive start to the day. The motto ‘Because we can, WE DO’ smacks of positivism, it is August Comte’s order and progress rewritten for a new world in newspeak. I hope the phrase is infectious, I hope it inspires a Will to Win attitude in those prepared to try it. If not 100 X 100 start your own idea off, give it a go, it will not be for all and some may laugh at you, so what. It is the easiest thing in the world to do nothing, to go with the flow, hide in he crowd and to be grey. My world is changing lately as I have begun to reorientate myself towards achieving the ambitious targets I set myself, powerful optimism underscored by the commitment to work as hard as possible are not values possessed by any one group, they are values there for us all to subscribe to but first we have to shake off the yoke of mental slavery. My world is colourful and becoming more so. If we are happy being second best that is what we will be, if we allow ourselves to become risk averse we will fear any risk, if we allow our world to be defined for us by mediocre liars then we will only have ourselves to blame.
I received a text from my daughter whilst watching England yesterday, she told me her son was sat watching England and waving his flag like his granddad, he is 2 in July. She knew that ever the optimist I would be sat in my shirt with my flag on the settee and a big mug of tea in my hand expecting England to do its duty. My wife showed me a picture of our other 9 week old grandson in his England Kit, proud, you bet, lets hope they get to see their dreams come true and that they are led by lions and not lambs.
Remember, hope springs eternal. Come on folks all together……for little Billy and Benji and come on Roy, DREAM for us all……