I've come to the conclusion that it's a mistake to mortgage the present for the sake of the future.
There's a paradox in this, of course. I don't mean squandering money, or any kind of resource, because the future is uncertain, but making an investment in who we are as individuals and as a society, so that we can have confidence that there is a future within us. This is not a fashionable way of thinking. The very economy is mounted upon debt. It feeds on entrepreneurial and parasitic activity and encourages, even compels, us to want it all now and to have it.
Recent days have made it manifestly clear how unreliable this is. And it's only the tip of the iceberg.
How can a person, a country, the globe, this whole edifice we call modern civilisation, prosper without the underpinning of a strenuous foundation? Shouldn't it be that you produce and contribute, you earn, you invest, you build brick on brick, stone on stone?
Mr Micawber in David Copperfield saw the difference between happiness and misery as a matter of a few pence either side of the line. I was brought up with that same fear of debt and the principle that if you couldn't afford it, you couldn't have it. The need was likely ephemeral and could doubtless be supplied in more resourceful and creative ways. Topsy-turvily, I have only debit cards nowadays and therefore no credit rating even if I wanted it. This is enough to make anyone blush with shame. I'm not a person of substance. I have no stake in the game and that's not sporting. I'm not part of the bankruptcy that eats its own tail and keeps cash flowing. With more like me, the country would be fast broke.
I always feel dismay for people who win the lottery. That moment, when the deus ex machina arrives like a thunderbolt to disperse all anguish for ever and the champagne bubbles rise with the euphoria, seems a moment to die for. It won't change anything, they say. But it calls for a character of steel to deal with the fall-out in terms of work, family and social life and everything that person has previously held dear. Can it even be humanly achieved?
When I look back at my life and wonder what it's been for, I want to be able to answer. I want to be able to answer that question every step of the way. For the real journey, the one that marks progress, is the interior one. In the end, mortal and material concerns fade and fall away.
It's a truism to say you can't take it with you. But what happens to what's left, everything you are?
At all events, I'll hope for a bottle or two of good champagne before that day dawns!
Causes Rosy Cole Supports
World Vision, International Prison Outreach, Salvation Army, Emmaus Project, Poor Clares, DogsTrust, BUAV (against animal testing) WWT (Wildfowl &...