I am in China again and once more flashing through the countryside on a very high-speed train. Here in south China the big news is bird flu. Unseen viruses are a real concern for this country as the source of the infection has not been found, but so far there has been no human-to-human transmission. Further north obviously the concerns are the other end of the scale with North Korea misbehaving with their nuclear arsenal.
So here we have the macro and the micro hard at work threatening our happiness. However back in the UK you are saying goodbye to Margaret Thatcher who has hardly had a mention here. I really don’t understand why we have this fascination and outpouring over her death. Firstly with the UK addiction to war we have all the Falklands stuff, but to me it seemed a war that was wanted as it ensured a re-election. Secondly I can’t ‘get’ the sinking of the cruiser Belgrano; a nuclear powered submarine controversially sank this Second World War museum piece on her orders while it was steaming away from the exclusion zone. It was crewed by mainly teenage conscripts who died in their hundreds.
Then there is the bit about being right. With so little comprehension about the fracturing and polarizing effects of someone always being so right, the issue had to cumulate in something as mad as the poll tax. Playing such a game of win – lose could certainly never end happily. Naturally the winners are singing Thatcher’s praises, but it is difficult to see anything meaningful in her life since leaving office except for a slide into dependency, isolation and general unhappiness. How can that speak of a life well lived? Isn’t that the measure of a great life, the sense of fulfillment, connection, humour, friends and family that would be the natural reward for a life of service and vision?
Every day we have constant reminders about how our lives will turn out depending on which paths we take. How often do we spend time with people who wish things would be different but seem so unwilling to give up being right about their complaints? So it is always a good day to remember that we are constantly being asked to make the choice between being happy or being right. It takes courage to surrender being right but then when we make being happy more important it seems a lot easier. So Margaret Thatcher’s legacy to me will be about the dangers of thinking I am right even part of the time!