Two hundred years is not such a long time.

Published: Mon, 07/19/21

My daughter will not have to grow particularly old to see the first years of the 22nd century. I grew up knowing my grandfather well who was born in the last decade of the 19th century. Does that make me a direct link in a span of over 200 years? I am not quite sure what that proves apart from the fact that we are part of a long lasting continuum of connection and history. As I think I have mentioned before, my mother’s father, Thomas Bainbridge Willis, was born into quite a humble family and left school at 14. He worked for the local education authority and in 1939 became the chief education officer for Darwen in Lancashire. He held the post until he retired in 1959 and during that time was responsible for implementing the 1944 Butler Education act. This process included establishing a technical school along with a secondary modern and the Grammer school. My grandmother had given up a career as a secretary when she married in
the 1920s, as was the custom for middle class women at the time. However, both my grandparents encouraged my mother to study for a degree in the 1940s and supported her in developing a career in teaching in the following decades.

I was brought up in a society which was proud of having ‘won’ two massive wars, and yet was struggling to come to terms with the scars of conflict. When I was a child in the early 1960s the evidence of bombing was still around us as the devastated sites were gradually redeveloped and many people still lived in what were popularly known as ‘prefabs’. Men who drank too much and seemed permanently angry were said to have had a ‘bad war’. Other men who should have been an uncle or a family friend were frozen in time as the 22 year old who had been killed in action in 1944. My father’s older brother was captured at Dunkirk and had lost five years of his life in a prisoner of war camp, but at least he was alive and well.

Those who had survived the conflict were busy building a brave new world. My grandfather and my mother in the state education system. My mother’s brother was a doctor in the NHS whose small town had its own cottage hospital. My father worked in the oil industry which was providing the energy for mobility, manufacturing, and homes. Television was opening up our world in terms of entertainment and news in a brand new way too. I guess looking back it was an exiting time with new opportunities for those ready to grasp them.

I do realise that I am looking back. Maybe I am not as fully in the present, and as optimistic about the future as I should be. Unlike the time I grew up in, I do not have a sense of a collective effort towards building a better world. I have more of a sense of how fragile our society is, and how easily communities can fragment, and the vulnerability of the infrastructure upon which we depend.

My parents generation were deliberately building physical, social, cultural, and intelectual infrastructure and hoping to accumulate a degree of financial and material wealth. A great many of them did manage to own a house, and receive a reasonable pension once they retired. However, in my grandfather’s generation there was a great deal to be accomplished in terms of public health, social security, universal access to education and, adequate nutrition for poorer people. Two world wars resulted in both death and destruction and transformation of society including the welfare state of the 1940s onwards. Countries such as Switzerland and Sweden carefully avoided getting embroiled in either conflict and probably benefited as result. I certainly would not want to make the case that world wars are essential to human progress.

Looking ahead to the time when my daughter is the same age as I am now the following things concern me: We probably reached the peak of where we need to be materially in the 1960s. Improvements in technology and quality have followed but the essentials were in place by 1970. So, if the objective is to get richer and have more and more, what exactly are we chasing after? All that has happened is that property prices have constantly outstripped earnings, and both personal and state debt is spiraling out of control. My grandparents saved up for their house during their engagement and bought their first property for cash. Ninety years later, further education will saddle a young person with a debt which would have bought two or, even three, London properties when I was 21 years old. I know the argument is that if you don’t earn much money you don’t have to pay it back, but isn’t a degree meant to be the foundation for a successful
career? Not a reason to work for minimum wage all of your life. Even then the debt will never actually go away since student debt has been exempted from bankruptcy legislation.

I also notice how many homes have one or more massive video screen but not a single book in evidence. This certainly includes younger people with supposedly good educations. Do they read stuff on the internet? Maybe, but social media seems to be the source of most of their information.

Interest in religion continues to decline and does this matter if most people are still kind and decent? I guess in a perfect world an absence of spiritual awareness and connection may not matter too much. In a very imperfect world, or perhaps more correctly, a perfectly good world which is dominated by those who would control everything for their own purposes, we cannot afford to be cut off from conscience, intuition, divine wisdom, scriptures, and all that awakens to soul to recognise, and resist evil, and serve the highest good in heart, mind, and spirit.

My grand parent’s and parent’s generation did achieve some amazing things, many of the good things we enjoy now are thanks to their efforts. Those same generations also failed to notice where they were being manipulated into serving powers which were by no means wholy benign. The current generation is basically nice, well meaning, caring, and is also largely asleep at the wheel. To build a better world each generation needs to stand on the shoulders of giants. If the giants of this generation are falling flat on their faces, then my daughter’s generation are going be rebuilding their world from scratch.

How can I prepare her for this task? The only way is to teach her the principles by which the world actually works, that ill health for example is caused by toxicity, deficiency, or stress, manage those three elements of your life and you may never need a doctor. If you do need expert assistance you will be able to judge whether you are being helped, or just exploited.

Maybe her life will be tougher than mine has been. I do realise that life in Western Europe for the past 60 years has been pretty good and my generation has a lot to be grateful for. Hard times can also make for stronger and wiser people if the challenges are approached with knowledge, faith, and confidence. Maybe the best I can do is provide my daughter with those gifts and leave the rest to her.



PS My grandfather certainly appreciated the value of education. I do too, but the state system has its limitations, quite deliberately I suspect. I got involved in Stav for a number of reasons and discovered that knowledge of the runes is a whole education system in its own right. If you are not familiar with the runes my booklet ‘A Stav Book of Runes’ might be a good place to start. It is available as a pdf from here