Hell in a handcart

  

We were burgled last weekend. Not a massive disaster, but unsettling none the less. 

As I hacked back the plant to reveal an old burglar alarm box, and then drove to the badlands of London to recycle the clippings; I was sent, en route, to buy a replacement Xbox at Argos, in order to cheer up the kids.

It set me thinking. What kind of a society do we live in, when someone is prepared to risk incarceration to nick our old out-of-date Xbox 360? Who is desperate enough to give them a bundle of notes to own it? And why am I here, perpetuating this ‘circle of life’, scrabbling with everyone else for a metal and plastic electronic narcotic, which sends healthy minds to sleep…

Hmmm. 

I’m reading Neil MacGregor’s terrific book Germany: Memories of a Nation – its history seen through the prism of fascinating lives, inventions and objects. It brings together a story of what is ‘Germany’ in images and items, from the Renaissance prints of Durer to the Bauhaus-inspired gates of despair at Buchenwald, here:

  

Jedem das seine: “to each his due”, as the proverbial and double-edged sign reads. 

At the top is MacGregor’s picture of one of the millions of traditional handcarts, in which even more millions of displaced people carried what little they could; across fought over and destroyed lands. When the world has literally gone to “hell in a handcart” of what value are material wealth and possessions?

MacGregor’s story makes you think about, care about and better understand Germany. It’s also a reminder that acquisitiveness and retribution are the twin roads to perdition. Happiness, for people or countries, is not found in revenge or fighting for more stuff.

This entry was posted in Ethics, Life and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s