Remembrance Day 2018; remembering my grandfathers and remembering who profits from war

My grandfathers, Ernest Swinard and Harold Manterfield
My grandfathers, Ernest Swinard and Harold Manterfield.

Last weekend, Remembrance Sunday, 11th November 2018, was the 100th anniversary of the armistice and the end of fighting in the First World War, and I spent time thinking about my lovely grandfathers, Ernest Swinard and Harold Manterfield. Both of them, thankfully, and unlike many, returned home after military service in that appalling conflagration.

During the Remembrance ceremonies on the TV and radio, I heard ‘Rule Britannia’ being played, and some of the words stuck in my mind;

“Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves. And Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.”

But we are slaves. We are all slaves, like most of the world, to the vast corporations and the obscenely wealthy and powerful who set the agenda, who promote wars and profit from them, who set us against each other to distract us from their activities, who own and direct the majority of our media to spread lies and misinformation in furtherance of their own greedy, self-serving schemes, schemes that are to the detriment of the majority and that add to the destruction of our environment.

Those of us who are fortunate, through accident of birth, to live in relatively wealthy countries and to have a certain amount of personal freedom, must take more care in choosing who to vote for. We must look carefully at our choices and try to select candidates who are independent of the rich and the corporations, or of those who are stoking the flames of nationalism, xenophobia and false patriotism for their own personal gain.

Remember who profits from war, and remember who suffers from it, because they are not the same people.

 

The Old Soldier by Harry Fellows 1987

 

‘The Old Soldier’, shown above, is a moving poem by Harry Fellows that I posted on social media for Remembrance Day. The poem was written in 1987 by Harry Fellows about his friend Walter Smith; they were both living at the Willows Elderly Persons Home where my wife Sue worked at the time.

 

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Janis Ellen Lewin (nee Manterfield)

7 September 1957 – 9 November 2017

 

Janis Ellen Lewin (nee Manterfield) 1957 - 2017 (A4)Monday the 27th of November 2017 was a very sad day. It was the funeral of my lovely sister Janis. I wanted to mark the day in memory of a very special person.

Janis was wife to John, Mother to Amy and Tom, Sister-in-Law to Sue, Aunt to Alice, relative and friend to many others and my only sibling.

Janis’s funeral took place at Loughborough Crematorium at 11am, with a wake afterwards at The White Horse on Leicester Road in Quorn. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but the turn out for her funeral was astonishing. The crematorium was completely full, all the seats were taken and people were standing all around the room from end to end.

Order of Service for Janis's funeral (27 Nov 2017)

This is the eulogy that John, Amy and Tom Lewin put together, read by Suzanne Buckeridge during the service:

“Janis Ellen Manterfield was born on the 7 September 1957 in the family home at 5 Front Street, Birstall to Dennis and Betty Manterfield. A sister for older brother Roy. Jan’s father gave her the nickname ‘Pod’ because she was so small when she was born, he thought she looked like a pea in a pod. This affectionate nickname stayed with her all her life. Growing to the height of 4ft 10½” tall (always aspiring to be 5ft, but never quite making it!), Pod was living proof that good things come in small packages!

Two years after Jan was born, the Manterfield family moved to 56 Denegate Avenue in Birstall, with a big garden that was landscaped by Dennis. Janis loved spending time in the garden with her Dad; making bonfires, planting seeds, and drinking cups of tea. The large garden also enabled them to have many family pets; so many that at one time the nickname ‘Manterfield Menagerie’ was coined! The pets ranged from dogs and cats, all the way through to Charlie Jones the tortoise. The Manterfields were an active family, going on family holidays around Britain, and regularly attending clubs, such as the Bowmen of Birstall.

Janis left school at 16, and after 6 months at BPX Electrical she moved to the British United Shoe Machinery Company where her parents worked. It was also the place where she met a long haired, bearded individual called John Lewin. Jan always got a lift to work with her Dad, so before work started, she would sit in his office reading the paper. Janis was initially cool to John’s advances and decided instead to hide behind her newspaper when he visited the department. A decade later, fate played a hand when John was on a Saturday night out with ‘the boys’ and happened to bump into Jan. John asked Jan if she would like to go out for Sunday lunch the following day and she agreed. 

After a couple of years together, John and Jan planned their first holiday abroad – to the Greek island of Santorini. This first holiday to Greece was very memorable because one night, while walking on the beach in the sunset, John got down on one knee in the waves. It was a good job that Jan said ‘yes’, as the tide was coming in; John had wet trousers all the way back to the apartment!

John and Jan were married on the 2 August 1986, after another holiday in Greece. When the DJ announced that it was time for the first dance, instead of ‘Always and Forever’ as they were expecting, the opening bars of ‘Zorba’s dance’ started playing as John’s friends arrived dressed as Greek dancers! Throughout their time together, Jan and John enjoyed many wonderful holidays to Greece, France, Turkey, Egypt, America and more.

In April 1988, Jan gave birth to her first child, Amy. Jan was over the moon to be a Mum, and took to it perfectly. Three years later, in April 1991, Tom was welcomed into the world. To Amy and Tom, Jan was the best Mum in the world: caring, loving, patient and kind.

When Amy was born, Jan made a decision to go to a local ‘Mum and Baby’ group at the health centre in Syston, as she didn’t know any other young Mums, and wanted Amy to grow up with friends her own age. A large group of friends was quickly formed there.

Jan originally worked as a secretary and shorthand typist, but when Tom started school, she decided on a new career direction, and became a healthcare assistant at PPD. This was the perfect role for someone with such a caring nature, as she was able to put her natural kindness into her work. When PPD closed, Jan continued in a similar role at Bupa. She always enjoyed working with people, and the camaraderie she shared with her colleagues.

Her family meant everything to Jan, and she was happiest with those she loved around her, or on the end of a characteristically long phone call. She also loved hearing from her French friends, and her relatives in America and Brighton. While bringing up her children, Jan remained tireless in supporting her parents and auntie, dedicating herself to their care, as she did everyone who ever needed her.

Her many friends – as we can see here today – played an equally important role throughout Jan’s life; friends who loved and supported Jan as she loved and supported them. Jan was often the life and soul of the party with her feather boas and her happy smile. She had a musical ear and loved to dance, as everyone who has been to a party with her will agree.

Jan was well known for her thoughtful words, cards and notes. Any occasion, Jan always sent a card in her neat handwriting, usually with appropriate, sparkly confetti inside. She wrote notes to Amy and Tom in their lunchboxes all the way from their first days at school, to the end of sixth form. Notes were left inside the door if she had gone out, and upstairs if she was working a night shift. Such was the care and thought that went into everything she did.

Everyone who knew Jan said that she was lovely, and she truly was. It is customary to focus on a person’s good points in their eulogy, but the truth is that Jan really was a good person, beautiful inside and out. It was her way to focus on the good in life, and to see the best in everyone.

Jan considered herself to have led a happy life, filled with the love of the many people who mattered to her; and that is the way that she would want to be remembered. Happy, and loved.”

 

Now it’s an immeasurably sad time, but Janis had early onset dementia, so in one way it’s a relief to know that she is no longer so confused and anxious. It was terrible to see my bright, caring, smiling sister gradually fading to the awful illness. I really don’t know how John coped from day to day with caring for Janis during the last couple of years.

 

Janis was born when I was five years old; she is the only person I’ve known for the entirety of their life. On the day she arrived, at home in Birstall, I couldn’t wait to meet my new sister. I whiled away the time drawing on a small blackboard easel, then Dad came to fetch me and we went up to my parent’s bedroom where Mum had just given birth.

Mum was in bed, the District Nurse was fussing around and tidying up, and my little sister was wrapped up and sleeping. I remember being slightly surprised because Janis was shiny, almost glistening, a tiny bit wrinkly and quite red with blue tinges. Being already familiar with how babies looked, I had expected her to be much paler.

Perhaps because I was a few years older or maybe because we were simply compatible personalities, but whatever it was we always got on very well. We played together, building dens with boxes and blankets, dressing up and posing our poor long suffering menagerie of pets, setting up lending libraries with our books, play fighting with sticks and dustbin lid shields, and probably many other games that I’ve since forgotten.

I frequently teased and joked with Janis; we laughed and giggled together at many silly things. I miss our familiarity and companionship, or siblingship, or whatever it might be called.

I always looked forward to her visits while I was at art college in Leeds and after I moved to Nottingham to work, and the many holidays we had together, with family and with partners.

It was a huge privilege to know Janis and I will miss her so much.

 

I’ve been touched with the kind thoughts and comments made on social media since I posted the composite photo of Janis at different ages. Here are just a few of them:

“Very sorry to hear this, No age is it, seems like she was cheated. I hope she enjoyed her life, I suspect from the photo’s that she brightened many. Thinking of you.”

“Really sorry to hear that. My condolences to your family. If personality does affect the face as we age she must have been a delight, her smile is wonderful.”

“She’s beautiful. I’m so sorry you had to lose her so young.”

“Best wishes and my thoughts to all.  I love that she was smiling through all those images.”

“I’m so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful smile Janis had.”

“Lovely pictures. Thanks for sharing. Condolences to you and all she held dear.”

“What great photographs, she looks like a lovely person. Thinking of you all x”

“I’m happy you had such a wonderful sister and I’m sorry for your loss. She was born about 10 months before me.”

“She looked to be a sparkle of life to many. 💖 My Condolences.”

“Such a sad loss to you and your family. What a beautiful sister you’ll always hold dear.” https://youtu.be/IMtnLkXCKlY

“My condolences Roy. Her pictures indicate a happy demeanour. – Bet you made her laugh lots.”

 

The following photo montages are six panels I put together with images I had of Janis, family and friends, and that John arranged to be printed and displayed at the wake.

Janis Lewin - Panel 1Janis Lewin - Panel 2Janis Lewin - Panel 3Janis Lewin - Panel 4Janis Lewin - Panel 5Janis Lewin - Panel 6

 

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Another ‘about’ MumblingNerd

Roy Manterfield (23 Feb 2013)Some things that I like, appreciate, use and think about…

Enthusiastically | Frequently | Occasionally | Specifically | Previously

But not in any particular order… ah, well, actually they’re in alphabetical order ►

Afternoon tea Airfix
Alaska Alzheimer’s Society
Amnesty International Archery
Art galleries Atheism
Avaaz BBC
Beaches Beatles
Berlin Bettys Café Tea Rooms
Birmingham Black Adder
Blogging Blondie
Blueberry pancakes, bacon and maple syrup Books
Bookshops Boston
Bread Breakfast
Brussels Brussels sprouts
California Carl Sagan
Castles Cats
Cheese Chicago
Chocolate Cinema
Coastline Coffee
Comedy Cotton
Cumbria Dawn chorus
Death Valley Delicious bookmarking
Derbyshire deviantART
Devon Douglas Adams
Draft Guinness Dr Who
Eating Edinburgh
Facebook Family
Fawlty Towers Fencing
Ferns Foo Fighters
Fruit Genealogy
George Carlin Glasgow
Google+ Google Chrome
Grand Canyon Graphic design
Groucho Marx Hancock’s Half Hour
Hats Helvetica
History Holidays
Hotel Chocolat Hot weather
Humour Iain M Banks
Ian Dury and the Blockheads I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue
Interlaken Internet
iPhone Jazz
John Lewis Partnership Just a Minute
Lady Gaga Laughing
Leather Leeds
Leicester Lego
Liberalism LinkedIn
Maine Maps
Marmite Merlot
Milton Jones Monty Python
Morecambe and Wise MSWord
Museums Music
Neil deGrasse Tyson Newcastle
New England News
Newspapers New York
Northumberland Norway
Nottingham Nuts
Oak trees Oslo
Paper Parks
Paris PC
Photography Pianos
Pink Floyd Pinot Grigio
Pinot Noir Pinterest
Ponds Prague
Public libraries Public transport
Punk Rock Puns
Punsr QR Codes
Radio 4 Railways
Reading Robin Hood Tax
Rock pools Rolling countryside
Rolling Stones San Francisco
Savannah Saxophones
Scotland Seattle
Sequentiality Sheffield
Shopping Sid Meier’s Civilization
Sir Patrick Moore Snowdonia
Social networking Speculative fiction
Spicy food Spring
Star Trek Steam engines
Stephen Fry Stone
Stranglers Strawberries
Sushi Switzerland
Tea Teddy bears
Television Tim Minchin
Toast Tommy Cooper
Torchwood Toronto
Touchscreens Trams
Travelling Trees
Twitpic Twitter
Typography Vancouver
Venice Victor Borge
Violins Wargaming
Washington DC Water
Wikipedia Wimbledon Championship
Wine Wood
Woodland Word play
WordPress Words
Yoga Yorkshire
Yosemite National Park Zurich



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And a few more favourite quotes


'There is no exception' quote“Hospitality is making your guests feel at home, even though you wish they were” ~ Unknown

“I don’t hate people, I just feel better when they aren’t around” ~ Charles Bukowski

“Please don’t follow me on facebook or twitter because I’m not on there” ~ Banksy

“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind” ~ Mohandas Gandhi

“A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.” ~ Frank Zappa

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly chocolate” ~ Debbie Moose

“In many Tory seats you could probably put a blue rosette on a half-eaten scotch egg and get it elected” ~ Joseph Watts

“An economy where advertisers thrive while journalists and artists struggle, reflects the values of a society more interested in deception and manipulation than in truth and beauty” ~ Jaron Lanier

“There is absolutely nothing to be said in favour of growing old. There ought to be leglislation against it” ~ Patrick Moore

“And then everything was in the hands of gravity, which has never had much love for the terminally stupid” ~ Mira Grant

“Le doute n’est pas une condition agréable, mais la certitude est absurde” ~ Voltaire (Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd)

“Most rock journalism is people who can’t write interviewing people who can’t talk for people who can’t read” ~ Groucho Marx

“Confidence is what you have before you understand the problem” ~ Woody Allen

“A lot of good arguments are spoiled by some fool who knows what he is talking about” ~ Miguel De Unamuno

“I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life” ~ Rita Rudner

“Sometimes you need to sit in the wrong place to see the right view” ~ Craig Stone (The Squirrel That Dreamt Of Madness)

“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me” ~ Alice Roosevelt Longworth

“Objectivity is compromised by our ‘tyranny of expectations’; we see what we wish to see and not what is actually there” ~ Roy Manterfield

“I am for freedom of religion, & against all maneuvres to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another” ~ Thomas Jefferson

“People that talk about living in the real world don’t even enjoy living in the real world” ~ Craig Stone (The Squirrel That Dreamt Of Madness)

“Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world” ~ The Buddha

“Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits” ~ Mark Twain

“I could give up chocolate for Lent, but I don’t know anyone trustworthy enough for the chocolate to be lent to” ~ Roy Manterfield

“One of the great tragedies of mankind is that morality has been hijacked by religion” ~ Arthur C Clarke

“Stencils are good for two reasons; one – they’re quick; two – they annoy idiots” ~ Banksy

“All that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about” ~ Charles Kingsley

“There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception” ~ James Thurber

“The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation. For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.” ~ Neil deGrasse Tyson

“Follow the rules whenever possible. That makes it a lot more surprising when you break them” ~ Mira Grant (Deadline)

“We are continually faced with great opportunities which are brilliantly disguised as unsolvable problems” ~ Margaret Mead

“At my age I do what Mark Twain did. I get my daily paper, look at the obituaries page and if I’m not there I carry on as usual” ~ Patrick Moore

“A martyr’s just a casualty with really good PR” ~ Mira Grant (Deadline)

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new” ~ Albert Einstein

“Today’s greatest labor-saving device is tomorrow” ~ President Woodrow T. Wilson

“He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away” ~ Kahlil Gibran

“As far as I’m concerned, I prefer silent vice to ostentatious virtue” ~ Albert Einstein

“Too old to plant trees for my own gratification, I shall do it for my posterity” ~ Thomas Jefferson

“We hang the petty theives and appoint the great ones to public office” ~ Aesop

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give” ~ Winston Churchill

“Politicians are not born, they are excreted” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero (106BC-43AD)

“Science is not a collection of truths. It is a continuing exploration of mysteries” ~ Freeman Dyson

“Take sides. Neutrality always serves the oppressor and never the oppressed.” ~ Ellie Wiesel

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, there must never be a time however when we fail to protest” ~ Elie Wiesel

“There are so many beautiful things in the world which I will have to leave when I die, but I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready.” ~ Maurice Sendak

“There must be more to life than having everything.” ~ Maurice Sendak

“I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can’t stop them. They leave me and I love them more.” ~ Maurice Sendak

“Children do live in fantasy and reality; they move back and forth very easily in a way we no longer remember how to do.” ~ Maurice Sendak

“People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them” ~ Dave Barry

“Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.” ~ Bill Vaughan

“I think the easiest people to fool are ourselves. Fooling ourselves may even be a necessary precondition for fooling others.” ~ Iain Banks

“My gratitude extends beyond the limits of my capacity to express it.” ~ Iain M Banks, The Player of Games

“To die for an idea; it is unquestionably noble. But how much nobler it would be if men died for ideas that were true.” ~ H L Mencken

“The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses.” ~ Carl Sagan

“The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion and politics, but it is not the path to knowledge.” ~ Carl Sagan

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” ~ Robert Frost

“People, you have six senses! The last one is common! Use it!” ~ Michael Ruhlman

“It never ceased to amaze him how quickly a small child’s face could turn from peach to beetroot.” ~ Iain Banks, The Crow Road

“Empathize with stupidity and you’re halfway to thinking like an idiot.” ~ Iain Banks

“I love the smell of the universe in the morning.” ~ Neil deGrasse Tyson

“It is a small thing, this dear gift of life handed us mysteriously out of immensity.” ~ Ray Bradbury

“Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you’re scared to death” ~ Earl Wilson

“Puns are the highest form of literature.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock

“Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.” ~ Thomas Edison

“What you read when you don’t have to determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” ~ Oscar Wilde

“A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.” ~ Carl Sagan

“Age is a very high price to pay for maturity.” ~ Tom Stoppard

“Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is. The way you deal with it is what makes the difference.” ~ Virginia Satir

“Religion too often demands belief in physical absurdities and anachronistic traditions despite all scientific evidence and moral progress” ~ Anonymous

“Remember that happiness is a way of travel – not a destination.” ~ Roy M Goodman

“If everybody thought before they spoke, the silence would be deafening.” ~ George Barzan

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ~ Thomas Edison

“I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster and leaves less room for lies.” ~ Le Corbusier

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” ~ William Shakespeare (All’s Well That Ends Well)

“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.” ~ Paulo Coelho

“When money speaks, the truth keeps silent.” ~ Russian proverb

“I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate” ~ George Burns

“The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

“You are always responsible for how you act, no matter how you feel.” ~ Robert Tew

“Hatred eats the soul of the hater, not the hated.” ~ Alice Herz Sommer

“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.” ~ Twyla Tharp

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

“You can destroy your now by worrying about tomorrow.” ~ Janis Joplin

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” ~ Albert Einstein



For other stuff in this blog, click on these links:


Humour

Puns and word-play

Quotations



Life observations

A small collection of observations and comments that have made me smile, some are mine, but most are ones I’ve gleaned from Twitter and Facebook:

 

I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.

I smile because I don’t know what the hell is going on.

I don’t have a solution but I do admire the problem.

Two rules to live by: First, look out for #1. Second, don’t step in #2.

My genetic insanity is very fit and healthy; it runs in the family.

I finally got my head together, but now my body’s falling apart.

I don’t have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; I’m just multi-tasking.

I’m not a complete idiot; some parts are missing.

Honesty is the best policy, but insanity is a better defence.

Some mistakes are far too much fun to only make once.

Experience is something you don’t get until just after you needed it.

Don’t take life too seriously; no one gets out alive.

I don’t suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it.

People are jealous because the voices only talk to me.

Make something idiot-proof and someone will make a better idiot.

Everybody repeat after me: “We are all individuals”.

He who dies with the most toys is nonetheless dead.

I want patience AND I WANT IT NOW!!!!

The trouble with life is there’s no background music.

My doctor just told me that I’m colour blind; that was right out of the orange.

Being over the hill is much better than being under it.

It’s hard to make a comeback when you haven’t been anywhere.

A closed mouth gathers no foot.

Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.

If at first you don’t succeed, redefine success.

If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.

Hard work never killed anyone, but why chance it?

Hard work pays off in the future; laziness pays off now.

I’d like to have more self-esteem, but I don’t deserve it.

Don’t marry a tennis player; love means nothing to them.

My inferiority complex isn’t as good as everyone else’s.

Smokers are the same as everyone else; just not as long.

I always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific.

Good health is just the slowest possible rate at which you can die.

Think outside the box; it’s too late once you’re in it.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, if you throw it hard enough.

Always remember that you are unique; just like everyone else.

 

Know Pun Intended Promo Logo L

 

 

 

 

 

 

For other stuff in this blog, click on these links:

 

Humour

Puns and word-play

Quotations

White van rant… okay; mumbling semi-rant


I just commented on someone’s blog post about drivers of white vans, which is unusual for me, so I thought I might as well add it to my ramblings on here for a change:

While I was regularly catching the bus into the city centre a few months back, I couldn’t help noticing the relatively dangerous activities of passing drivers, particularly drivers of white vans; although what I really don’t understand is why is it so prevalently white vans? Rationally it can’t be all drivers of white vans; perhaps you notice white vans more because they’re bright?

Anyway, bearing in mind that the bus stop is just after a very sharp blind bend in the road, I regularly observed ‘White Van Man’ swerving around the corner reading newspapers and talking on their mobile phones.

Even worse, some were simultaneously drinking from coffee mugs or from cans, lighting cigarettes and even counting money from a wallet while STEERING WITH THEIR ELBOWS.

I saw one man steering with the left hand and holding an unsecured cupboard onto the roof through the window with the right hand.

Senseless! How can they not consider risk and consequence?

Hmm… I don’t often rant, I just mumble or grumble, but, even though this semi-rant was moderate and unexpletive, it was also quite therapeutic. Perish the thought of me even attempting to make a serious comment, but I might try it again sometime.

:^)

Similar interests, different points of view

Pennsylvania Avenue and The Capitol, Washington (26 Oct 2009)
Pennsylvania Avenue and The Capitol, Washington (Oct 2009)

I know you shouldn’t generalise, but sometimes I think it might be possible to sum up politics in the United States of America as ‘similar interests, different points of view’.

Considering its length and breadth, of both land and of ideas and political extremes, the United States must have a remarkable political system to hold all of its people and states together.

I recently did a tour of the Capitol in Washington DC; an outstanding building and a fascinating tour, thanks to the tour guide Nick.

The Capitol and tour guide Nick (Oct 2009)
The Capitol and tour guide Nick (Oct 2009)

The tour takes you through some very interesting areas of the building and touches on some enthralling events in the history of the United States. This gives you an impression of the amazing range of views and ideas the diverse population encapsulates.

On the one hand, this diversity has culminated in horrendous events such as the Civil War and in the terrible treatment of indigenous people and African Americans for example, but it has also lead to astonishing technological, medical and social change, and enabled the United States to become strong enough to tip the balance of power in the Second World War and stop the relentless rise of fascist dictatorships in Europe and Asia.

Freedom Plaza, Washington (Oct 2009)
Freedom Plaza, Washington (Oct 2009)

For all its faults (and what system doesn’t have faults?) the political system in the United States must have some pretty sound ideas in its basic set up, because even with the extraordinary tension of people passionately pulling in different directions and the barely restrained corporate power of ‘big business’, most of the time it actually works for a significant majority of its people.

And how many countries and political systems across the world can truthfully say that?

Lincoln Memorial, Washington (Oct 2009)
Lincoln Memorial, Washington (Oct 2009)