Motivation, heroin and good intentions

 

My heart sank when I read the headline on the front page of The Independent this morning. The latest initiative to reduce heroin addiction is to offer a financial reward to those addicts that give it up. How much precisely? £10! That’s right. In fact it’s not even cash that’s being offered; it’s a £10 shopping voucher (for food presumably rather than X Box games).

And support for this new policy appears to be widespread and optimistic. Well I hate to be the spoilsport but my prediction is that this policy will get absolutely nowhere and be an unmitigated disaster. The only upside being that it won’t be an expensive one because no-one will actually have to pay out any money.

So precisely then here’s the idea: you pay heroin addicts a £10 shopping voucher on a weekly basis if they provide a clean urine sample i.e. they have not taken any heroin recently. So let’s be clear about this. What they are saying is that people chronically dependent on heroin both physiologically and psychologically, many with low self-esteem, chaotic personal lives and a bleak future ahead of them will be so tempted by the £10 inticement that they will instantly put down their infected needles and instantly become fully functioning members of society once again. Land Cuckoo and Cloud.

Because if money was really a factor here, you’d have thought the hundreds of pounds a week that they might save by not buying heroin and the money they would make by being able to hold down a job might have incentivised them previously.  If these people are of such clarity of mind to summon up all of their will power for £10 worth of fish fingers and garlic bread every week, you’d think they might just have been able to muster up the drive previously to quit so as to avoid becoming infected with AIDS or Hepatiitis and escape death from an overdose or another stint in prison, but guess what? Heroin kind of stops you thinking and acting rationally like that.  

Anyone who has studied motivation (Maslow, Hertzberg, Pink et al) will be aware of the limiting value of money as a motivator. (If you haven’t check out this entertaining and informative video for a study on the poor correlation between financial rewards and results https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmiDN87VlSg )

Seriously I’m no expert but many of these people will clearly have low self-esteem issues and deep rooted problems that are likely to require ongoing professional support. They may need to escape from their social circles and environment to even stand a chance of giving up. They may need constant supervision. They may need educating and therapy to enable them to take responsibility for their lives. In fact they may have tried many of these things already along with methadone and still not have given up. £10 just simply isn’t going to make one iota of difference to these people’s mind sets or habits

So where on earth has this idea come from? Well the policy has come off the back of a previous experiment to offer addicts money to take up a Hepatitis B vaccine that apparently proved a runaway success. This I can believe. Because it’s a wildly different proposition. Offering someone money to give up a small amount of their time to visit the doctor is one thing but offering them such a sum of money to change years of ingrained habits, their lifestyle, their friends and to get them to question their very nature, is quite another.  It seems obvious that these two policies have little in common  and really if all we had to do was give people an ASDA voucher to get them to rebuild their lives I think we might have tried it long ago.

Of course I hope I am proved wrong and that within the next couple of years heroin dependency vanishes from the UK but I suspect not. As well intentioned as it might be this is doomed to be yet another failed attempt and a mightily naïve one at that.  

PS Actually now that I think about it X Box vouchers might just work.  

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For anyone who has ever received, or sent, a Christmas round robin letter

2013– a Year in the Life of The Montgomerys

Well what a year that was! And it’s not even over yet. 2013 has brought both tears of laughter and tears of sorrow to all of our eyes as well as tears of excruciating pain to Maria’s (more on that later!). It was also a year in which we learnt to appreciate what we all had a little more; the simple things in life, and all of you.

So where to start? – Well for those whom we haven’t caught up with for a while, we’ll start in January (Sorry Russ & Liz – we know you’ve heard this bit more than once!!! But we think you’ll agree it’s worth it).

Usually a relatively uneventful month, January 2013 was far from that in the Montgomery household.  A mixed bag of a month in fact – on the one hand Maria started to develop an in-growing toenail that was later in the year to cause us so much inconvenience and anxiety (see August / September / October), on the other hand Isabel (now 3 years old – can you believe it?  It seems like only yesterday that she was so crassly removed from her mother in such barbaric circumstances – we refer you to 2011’s round robin letter) uttered her first sentence with a complete subordinate clause – you can probably only imagine how proud we were!

February and we hosted our first dinner party of the year. Maria treated our guests (a motley crew from Adam’s work) to a truly exquisite feast. Well you’ve all sampled Maria’s culinary expertise over the years, but let me assure you that she surpassed herself this time (yes Jane, it was even better than the Haunch of Venison you were so rightly pleased with back in 2008!) with a lobster Vichyssoise, a terrine of ox tongue and a brandy tarte au tatin (recipes by request only please!). To be honest the rest of the month passed by in a giddy whirl after this!

March saw Amy come a disappointing third in the school talent show. Bless her! We still get a few tears now and again, some eight months later. I can only assume that her teachers were not ready for such a contemporary interpretation of Swan Lake. More fool them I say – and indeed Maria did indeed say just that at parents evening not long afterwards – what is it about teachers that they just won’t admit when they are wrong? (Not you of course Russ !)

April – The Easter bunny came as usual (By the way Amy still believes in the Easter bunny and we would urge you to speak to your older children before you visit us next time and implore them not to reveal the truth of this matter – you know how desperate we are to preserve our childrens’ innocence for as long as humanely possible and how difficult it has been since we saw Santa Claus smoking a cannabis joint outside The Co Op last year). There was still no sign of the forthcoming toenail ordeal and family life continued as normal for the meantime.

May – Isabel started her cello lessons. Despite being only half the size of the cello she is coping amazingly well – her teacher says she’s got more potential than any of her former pupils had at this age (and I’ve heard she once taught Jacqueline Du Pre!). Amy has finally settled on a career choice. She wants to be a lexicographer when she completes hers studies at Cambridge (I know still some 11 years away before she even gets an interview there but she’s so focussed. Who are we to crush her dreams?). Maria still worries obsessively that they are falling behind their peers and we are considering getting extra Mandarin tuition for Isabel (they are like sponges at that age) and we are trying to find some voluntary work that Amy can do at weekends which we hope will not just be good for her CV but will help to instil a sense of just how lucky she is – we are even considering a trip to a sub-Saharan orphanage, rife with AIDS and leprosy next year for all of us – just to put things into perspective. God we are so lucky here in Worcestershire where all we have to be concerned about is whether or not Worcestershire County Cricket Club will ever regain Division one status or what the English Philharmonic – based here in Malvern as I’m sure you all know – will be playing at the Winter Gardens in the Autumn Festival.      

June and talking of God – Maria began to attend church. Many of you, I know, have long been aware of Maria’s spiritual leanings, but in June she channelled her energy directly into The Church of Saviour on Spilled Blood (the literal translation from French – not as macabre as it sounds!) a Baptist denomination currently making ground in the UK. It really has changed all our lives and I would urge you all to attend a service with us next time you are up – we’d be surprised if it doesn’t change all your lives as well. Yes I go too – although in the church’s terms I am still a “filthy unbelieving child of Satan” (another direct translation – and again not as bad as it sounds)

Other highlights in June included Amy achieving straight 3s in her SAT results. A fantastic achievement for her and we are all extremely proud too. So Graeme, now try telling me that 10 hours extra study a week wasn’t going to make any difference to the rest of her life! Please do not send her any money as a reward but instead send any donations to either the Church or the orphanage in Africa we hope to visit next year (addresses below).

July – Maria won the mother’s 100m sprint at Amy’s school sport’s day (It should be said that this decision was subsequently reversed and Maria was disqualified, after an accusation that she deliberately tripped up one of the other mothers, yards from the finish line – a matter Maria refutes and that is still the subject of an ongoing internal school investigation. News next year on the outcome – watch this space). On that note I would like to add that being subject to these allegations and feeling as though one’s whole life is in the balance pending the outcome of this verdict, we `have all been able to empathise more than ever with some of the higher profile miscarriages of justice such as the Guildford 4.

August – Montgomery holiday time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If there’s one time of year we, the Montgomerys, love more than Christmas, Easter, Halloween and Lent, it’s the summer holidays. We spent a week camping in a yurt (a Mongolian nomadic tent) in Cornwall. Despite raining for the entire week and a small feud with the neighbours over the language (I’ll leave it up to your imagination!) of their 13 year old son which admittedly made the last 5 days a little awkward (we insisted the kids stayed in the tent all day so that they were not exposed to such ignorance and filth) – we had a brill time and have already booked up for next year.

And then of course came the toenail!

September   

In late August it became apparent that Maria’s toe had developed a severe infection and indeed her foot swelled up so much that by the end of the month, we had to get a specially made shoe for her from the hospital, which of course was impossible to match with any of her existing shoes. In pretty much continual pain, only ever relieved by several straight Sherries, life became almost unbearable for us all (Russ how we now all much admire the spirit you showed whilst you endured your stiff shoulder for all those months. We simply hadn’t realised at the time just how much of an impact something so innocuous can have on family life). We’d like to thank the many of you who showed us great support during this difficult time and just add that we will return the favour whenever the opportunity arises (Although God forbid it takes such unpleasant circumstances to bring us together next time). These testing times continued throughout October and November, although in order to preserve a sense of balance here I have focused on the positive sides of those months – needless to say they were truly some of the most miserable and difficult times any of our family have experienced.

The kids were already excited about the pantomime trip in December though – this year it’s Puss in Boots starring Linda Lusardi (Adam made sure of his ticket early on!) and Little Cook from Big Cook, Little Cook. (Why do they always make such sweet food on that programme?  Haven’t they heard of the obesity epidemic?)

October and Prometheus, Amy’s beloved stick insect, passed away on Halloween night – well we think it was then; it was tricky to tell at exactly what point it died as it so rarely moved anyway. Anyway that’s when she noticed it, stone cold dead in its cage. We gave it a proper burial in the garden (pets are so important to teach kids about life and death – if you no longer have any elderly relatives left alive, I urge you to consider a family pet if only for this reason) and you may visit the memorial when we next see you here – it’s so sweet – Amy constructed a headstone from a spare roof slate in which she etched the words:

“Prometheus – Oct 24st 2013- Oct 31st 2013 – I will never forget you”

I really do sometimes think that she has a higher calling, that one.

November – Really not much to say about November – we spent so much time trying to get this round robin letter just right (hard to pitch to so many potentially different audiences, don’t you think?). Just one little (hehe) event of note – Adam had his vasectomy! We had discussed it for a long time – most of you know how I (Maria) was not prepared to make love again with Adam until he had had “the snip” so to speak – I had simply heard one too many of those horror stories about split condoms and, Vicki, you can vouch for just how badly I reacted to those pills all those years ago – so much hair!. Anyway irony of ironies, now that I am finally willing to make love to Adam again, he can’t because of the pain! Oh dear, it really tickles me that one.

For those of you desperate for the outcome of the in-growing toenail saga, I can thankfully say that we are all safe in the hands of the NHS and particularly those of Dr Graham Foster – the surgeon who performed my operation this month and who has won himself a place on my Christmas card list for all time (Hello Dr Foster!)

December and we can already taste the mince pies and turkey gravy – Whoops! Just read that last sentence – I didn’t mean taste them together of course, but I kept my mistake in because I hope it amuses you as much as it did me when I read it.

So here we are again – another year – how many more to come I wonder? I hope that somehow I’ve managed to convey some of the tragedy, fear, joy and exultation that our family has experienced over the last 11 months in this simple document. If I have, then I have achieved all I could hope to do with it and I will rest easy over the festive period.  May all your New Year wishes come true in 2014.

Adam (42), Maria (21 – again!), Amy (7) and Isabel (3 going on 16!) Montgomery

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When did you last fall in love? It’s been a long time coming but over the weekend I fell in love again

Cover of "Love Ire & Song"

Cover of Love Ire & Song

Frank Turner

Frank Turner (Photo credit: sidmuchrock)

I mean when did you last really fall in love? Head-over-heels, butterflies in the stomach, truly, madly, deeply in love. Infatuation (I could never tell the difference). Obsession. A time when you’d wake up in the morning thinking of the object of your desire and fall asleep at night dreaming of them.

It’s been a long long time coming but over the weekend I fell in love again.

The thing is, I’m talking about falling in love with music. About being so completely obsessed by a band or an artist that there’s no room in your life for any others.  The days when you would put a CD on repeat and sit back;  when you’d pour over the lyrics, scrawled on an insert in the record sleeve, for hours until you had every word memorised; when every song seemed  as though it had been personally written just for you; when you’d scour the weekly music press desperate for news of a new tour where you could get to see your latest crush; when you could anticipate every note of every song on their latest album and somehow  you knew the bass player’s middle name even though the internet didn’t exist.

So when was your last time? If you’re anything like me it may have been some years ago (Dodgy – Homegrown 1993). New music and me simply haven’t got on for a while now, despite my frequent attempts. I like the odd single of course but that’s not the same: that’s just a one night stand. We can all do that. But somewhere between Top of the Pops coming off the air and the X Factor dominating the media; after the excitement of dance music in the late 80s and the hype of Britpop in the mid 90s, I became abstinent, no longer able to tell whether new music had become shit or I had just got old. Nothing excited me any more, every new band I heard just seemed to be an inferior copy of an old favourite.

Perhaps you remember the first time? I certainly do. For me it was AC/ DC in 1980, followed in quick succession by Hawkwind, The Stranglers, Pink Floyd, Julian Cope, The Stone Roses but to name a few. And of course each of these still holds a special place in my heart but whilst I still love these bands, I am no longer “in love” with them. We’ve grown comfortable and old together but the  apart from the odd drunken evening the spark’s gone. Who was your first? The Smiths? The Specials? XTC? Iron Maiden?  

And so to today. A few years later than it should have been, I got round to buying a Frank Turner album at the weekend (Love, Ire & Song). I listened to it in the car at 11am on Saturday morning and by midday I had bought a second album and I’ve not stopped listening since (playing as I write of course).

Wow he’s great. Raucous punk-influenced, beer-swilling, foot-stomping, Billy Bragg-inspired (Billy is his friend), folk music with angry, skeptical, insightful, defiant, reflective, righteous, sometimes amusing and sometimes tender lyrics that you just can’t help but sing along to. And he’s also clearly a natural rock ‘n’ roll star, with the swagger and attitude that the Simon Cowell would run a mile from. And importantly he’s made me feel young again.

Oh yes and he’s on tour next year! But playing arenas (the price of arriving too late to the party), which I don’t think I could bear. For me a gig should be an intimate affair, a party to which we’re all invited, with a real connection between the musicians and the audience, not a detached and distant show, so I guess I’ll wait til his comeback in a few years before I see him live.

Well that’s my latest infatuation anyway. Isn’t it time you developed a new crush? Go on and fall in love again this weekend; it’s probably been too long. And if you’re thinking that all new music is crap, maybe you’re just not looking hard enough, and if you haven’t got any better ideas, why not try Frank Turner’s second album “Love, Ire and Song”? Or listen here if you want to dip a toe in first.  I’ll leave you with some lyrics from that album that seem to have some relevance to what I have just written.

“Well I guess I should confess that I am starting to get old
The latest music fads all passed me by and left me cold
All the kids are talking slang I won’t pretend to understand
All my friends are getting married, mortgages and pension plans
And it’s obvious my angry adolescent days are done
And I’m happy and I’m settled in the person I’ve become
But that doesn’t mean I’m settled up and sitting out the game
Time may change a lot but some things stay the same

And I won’t sit down
And I won’t shut up
And most of all I will not grow up

Oh maturity’s a wrapped up package deal so it seems
And ditching teenage fantasies means ditching all your dreams
All your friends and peers and family solemnly tell you you’ll
Have to grow up be an adult, be bored and unfulfilled
Well no one’s yet explained to me exactly what’s so great
About slaving 50 years away on something that you hate
About meekly shuffling down the path of mediocrity
Well if that’s your road then take it but it’s not the road for me

And I won’t sit down
And I won’t shut up
And most of all I will not grow up”

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Typhoon Haiyan might not be proof of climate change but it is further proof of something to me

Charles Darwin as a young man, probably subseq...

Charles Darwin as a young man, probably subsequent to the Galápagos visit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Often, in light of horrendous news, such as we had last week, people turn to their faith for reassurance. I think such sobering events provide a greater opportunity: a perfect time to question your faith.  Warning, the post below contains some strongly-held atheist views.

This report just in, hot off the wires

There was shock this week in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Phillipines when a man of religion insisted that the terrible events still hadn’t disproved the existence of God.

When asked whether the storm that had taken so many lives and left hundreds of thousands homeless, didn’t finally put an end to the delusion that a kind and benevolent deity was watching over humanity, the religious representative, who wished to remain anonymous, murmured something about “mysterious ways”. We checked a dictionary for a definition of this phrase, which it turns out means “I haven’t a clue and that’s an end to the discussion”

So it was put to the man that if God did indeed exist but had deliberately inflicted such suffering upon mankind, as he had so often before with tsunamis, earthquakes, cancers, birth defects, famines etc, then surely he was a cruel and malicious god that didn’t deserve our praise or worship. Our reporter didn’t catch the full response but the word “sin” was definitely muttered, at which point the man was shown a picture of a dead  infant being cradled  in the arms of her distraught father and carried across the debris and rubble that now define the landscape in the aftermath of the storm. Asked what sins this child could possibly have committed, the man looked a little flustered and remained silent because, you know, religious people are, in the main, well-meaning, caring and good people; they just believe in something that doesn’t exist and therefore something they find hard to explain without reference to an old book; all of which seems a completely unnecessary distraction and which is too often used as an inadequate excuse for both good and bad behaviour.   

Anyway our reporter tried another tact. “If you still insist that there is a god and that he is also a benevolent and kind god, worthy of our adoration, then surely the very least that you have to admit is that he is negligent?”

“He’s very busy” came the reply.

Blank face.

“Answering prayers and the such”

“Hmmm, clearly not all of them”

“As I said he’s very busy”

“Negligent”

“Busy”

“Cruel”

“Mysterious”

“Doesn’t exist”

“Busy and mysterious”

I hope it doesn’t seem churlish to reflect on the horrific events in the Phillipines this week in relation to my atheist views but turning to God for comfort at moments like these is a reaction I find completely incongruous with the reality of events.

I genuinely believe that if the time, passion, energy and of course the money that was dedicated to worship, prayer, repairing church roofs and buying Popemobiles was redirected to more pragmatic and real issues, then the world would be a better place.

And after all, Charles Darwin didn’t need such horrific catastrophes to affirm his beliefs. “I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars.”

Some say you can see God everywhere. I say you can see signs of his absence everywhere. 

You can donate money to the disaster relief effort here: https://donate.oxfam.org.uk/emergency/philippines?pscid=ps_ggl_Emergencies_Philippines_Generic

or here: http://www.unicef.org.uk/landing-pages/Philippines-Childrens-Appeal/?gclid=CM_4t_Kq5boCFfHItAodkD4A-w&sissr=1

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If something you say annoys quite so many, you must have said something interesting.

English: Jeremy Paxman, British journalist and...

English: Jeremy Paxman, British journalist and broadcaster, at the Health Hotel “Health Zone” at The Brighton Centre, Brighton, during the Labour Party Conference 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Arthur Russell Brand

Arthur Russell Brand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Russell Brand’s interview on Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman last week has caused quite a stir. His comments have struck a chord with many but also unleashed a tidal wave of vitriol and criticism across the media and internet, not least from many of my own friends. Personally I enjoyed his musings. I thought he was passionate, funny and articulate, however many others don’t seem to share this view. So why did the interview cause so much controversy? And what is it about Mr Brand that so many people find so unpalatable? Can it ever be right not to exercise your right to vote?  Is it possible to divorce content from source? Can you be simultaneously rich and famous and on the side of the downtrodden? Has he swallowed a thesaurus? And if so why does that get on people’s nerves?  I have sought to address some of these questions below.  

Criticism no 1: He’s rich and so in no position to lecture us.

It appears that many people cannot accept that Russell Brand can be both a wealthy film star and simultaneously hold radical views on politics, the economy and the environment.  Nonsense of course; history is full of examples of the better off championing the underdog: Would Brand’s message have been received more warmly if he was still poor? Unlikely I suspect and we’d probably never had heard it. The vast majority of those who talk to us in the media  or who run for political office are wealthier than average  Should I dismiss the views of Tony Benn or Barack Obama purely on the basis of their how much money is in their bank accounts?  How wealthy an individual is may indeed influence them politically and this therefore should be taken into consideration when judging a speaker’s words.  Are they acting purely in their own self- interest? It would be hard to argue that Russell Brand was advocating any kind of action that would in any way improve his own financial situation or position.

Criticism no 2:  His message not to vote is immoral

Of course it’s true that many brave people fought for our right to vote in the past but does this mean that voting should be compulsory? Abstaining from voting is both a legal and a moral right. It is not disrespecting those that struggled for this right but a statement of discontent with the choices on offer at that moment in time. It is not an indictment of the principle of democracy, but of the current state of democracy. It is perfectly possible to hold views that are not represented in any of the manifestos and ideologies of any of the mainstream parties.  And not voting is a temporary act. Russell Brand didn’t say “never vote”: he simply suggested that people don’t vote for any of the current political parties.

Thirty five per cent of Britons did not vote at the last general election, approximately the same number as voted for the ruling party. We have a choice: we can rave and rant against this with moral indignation or we can choose to listen to what this is telling us about the current state of politics, and try to understand why and how so much of the population feels so disenfranchised.

Not voting does not mean you don’t care either, in fact in my experience many of those who do not vote often care more than those that do vote and it is thinking deeply about the issues involved that has led them to the decision not to vote. I know many people who do not vote but who have pursued change through other means such as protest, activism and support for single-issue campaigns and organisations.

Of course there are other reasons not to vote that I shall not go into here such as safe seats, first past the post, corruption and the ridiculous adversarial stances taken by the major parties purely to serve their own interests and not those of the country.

Criticism no 3: He has no message

A wonderfully funny moment during the interview was when Jeremy Paxman called Russell Brand a “very trivial man” following a comment from Brand about how much he liked Paxman’s new beard. In response to this insult Brand replied “a minute ago you were having a go at me because I want a revolution, now you are calling me trivial”. In fact one of the joys of the interview was watching it swing from the ridiculous to the sublime.

He certainly had a message. In case you missed it, here it is again: the current system of party politics in the UK is not dealing with the major problems that the world and the country are currently facing e.g. environmental damage, corporations avoiding tax and an underclass of impoverished and disenfranchised,. Perhaps when people say he has no message what they really mean is his message is different from theirs.

It’s true that Russell Brand certainly doesn’t have a workable solution to the problems he pointed out but as he said he will leave that up to others cleverer than himself. This seems entirely reasonable to me; it is perfectly acceptable to point out a problem and not to have all the answers yourself. This might be more of an issue if he was running for PM but at this moment in time I don’t think that’s on the cards.

Criticism no 4: He was just promoting his latest tour.

Well firstly that would be his right and hardly a great sin, after all he was invited to speak on Newsnight, although I don’t recall him once mentioning his tour during the entire conversation. The most compelling part of the interview for me was the last few minutes when Russell became really quite angry and passionate about the plight of the poor and the state of society. It was quite clear to me at this point that he was not thinking about promoting his tour whatsoever but was speaking out of a genuine concern for justice and fairness.

Criticism no 5: He has swallowed a thesaurus

Really? That’s your reason for not listening? This is a non-argument. Would you like him to be less articulate? Were there words you didn’t understand? I can fully understand how his peculiar diction, a bizarre concoction of 21st century estuary English and Dickensian wordiness can grate and it does seem that his foppish manner alienates many potential supporters of his message. But make up your mind here: is it what he is saying that’s the problem or how he says it? If it’s how he says it, I find this rather depressing; that people who may hold similar beliefs can be discounted purely because of their affectations.

Criticism no 6: He upset Manuel, has taken drugs and by all accounts had a lot of sex

He has apologised for his BBC podcast mishap, admitted that it was not his finest moment and accepted responsibility for his part in this overblown scandal, led and propagated by an anti-BBC media. This error alone does not invalidate every subsequent thought he has or action he takes.  Have you ever made a mistake?   Care to be judged on that for the rest of your life? Russell has spoken candidly about his history of drug-taking and reports indicate that he has had sex with a lot of women. Whether you think this behaviour is immoral or perfectly acceptable, it has little bearing on his political views. If he was advocating monogamy I could see that his lifestyle might be relevant.

So look, the only possible reasons for not liking what Russell Brand said are:

That you don’t agree with what his message, that is, you do believe that the government is effectively tacking poverty, doing its best to protect the environment and is taking the right stance on bankers’ bonuses and corporate tax avoidance. And if that’s your view, that’s fine.

Or you agree with the sentiments behind what he said but you don’t like the bit about not voting. If this is the case, taking a positive stance by focusing on what you agree with, rather than the parts you disagree with would seem to be a potentially more useful way forward.

Or you agree with the message but you don’t like the messenger. If you have studied conflict resolution you will know that the first rule is to separate the people from the problem. Focusing on the problem will be productive whereas concentrating on personalities will get you nowhere. Nobody including Russell himself is asking you to like him. He just answered some questions.

Ultimately like the Sachsgate scandal, I suspect that we will all just maintain the positions we previously held, those who liked Brand will continue to do so, those that didn’t will have another reason not to. Confirmation bias is a fascinating concept that describes how we only seek and pay attention to messages that reinforce our current way of thinking and we filter out messages that contradict what we believe. So whatever our views on a particular subject, new information only ever strengthens our existing beliefs,, regardless of the new content.  Being open to receiving information without prejudice and being willing to change your mind are both vital to developing as a human being.

If you haven’t seen the video, watch it here: : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YR4CseY9pk

Update – great to hear Jeremy’s views on Brand and politics!

Posted in Comedy, Film and TV, Ideas, Media, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments