Scepticism of our political masters – or rather, of the servants of the people – is both healthy and warranted by past events.
But the prevailing view in our country isn’t that our present set of politicians are unlikely to behave well, and should therefore be watched closely. Rather, it seems impossible for anyone participating even remotely in politics to ever be anything other than a crook.
This is the difference between healthy cynicism and corrosive, systemic negativity.
It seems to stem from a wider prevailing view that things are objectively getting worse. I think that this is wrong, both specifically in terms of our lives in the City and the UK, and in life more generally. Unfashionably, I happen to think that people tend to go into politics wishing to do good, rather than to serve themselves.
Perhaps even more unfashionably, I think that our present crop at Westminster are somewhere between pretty good and very good on any historical spectrum. For what it’s worth, I also have great confidence in our City and our country in or out of the EU, too. But, moreover, on the global scale at least, this perspective of negativity really is not warranted on any objective basis.
Consider these facts. We are living longer lives, and the quality of them is much better for most people.
Technology is improving our circumstances at a blinding rate, and we don’t even know what life-bettering innovations will meet us next. Modern medicine would be regarded by our forefathers as a miracle. Rather than running out, the energy that keeps the lights on is more available than in past times and getting cheaper. Food and drink that would have been unknown or delicacies are available in abundance.
While it may not feel like it, given the rolling quasi-hysteric coverage of current events, ours is a time that is simultaneously unprecedentedly peaceful and less crime-ridden.
Capitalism has performed an economic miracle, lifting many millions out of poverty while enriching the lives of some on a spectacular scale.
Isn’t this improvement in the lives of the majority of humanity (rather than jealously of the fortunate) what matters most? More are inoculated against disease than ever. More can read and write than ever before. Given all that, statistically speaking, it is unquestionable that there has never been a better time to be on this earth. Not only this, but I say that our best days are ahead of us, too.
There will always be those who disagree. To paraphrase Carl Sandburg, we will always have those who see a smut on every human blossom. But take a moment this Monday – which, perhaps foolishly, I hereby declare will see the sun shine upon you as you commute in – to consider the points above. Then, how about thinking that things aren’t quite the ongoing disaster our news cycle might have you believe?