Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. This blog is not advocating ignorance as a way forward or indeed trumpeting it as a life tool of any sort – we’re merely saying that, occasionally, sticking one’s head in the stand is temporarily preferable to engaging with reality. Every so often it is perfectly and normally human to feel the urge to take our lead from ostriches.
“Is there a Doctor in the house?” is a shout that only goes up when illness or injury has come suddenly and publicly upon some unfortunate individual – usually in a public space or amenity and very occasionally in appalling incidences of catastrophe or terror. That call can only be answered by a very, very select few. The few who chose to dedicate a minimum of seven years to the study of the human body’s function and vulnerabilities and also to the alleviation of the pain and distress that those vulnerabilities facilitate.
3,000 years ago, a heavily armed 6ft 9in giant strode out from the ranks of the Philistine army each morning for 40 days and bellowed the same message to their Israelite opposition across the valley: “Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.”
Eventually on the 40th day, a young shepherd (who happened to be delivering food to his soldier brothers that morning) took him up on his challenge and stepped forward, armed only with five smooth stones and a sling.
The giant was Goliath and the boy was David. The rest is – quite literally – history.
There’s nothing new under the sun. There’s no such thing as an original idea. It’s all been done before. Etc, etc. We’re all familiar with those throwaway platitudes, the classic cynics’ catchphrase analysis – usually of an initiative in which they’ve had no involvement.
But those phrases are rooted in a statement made by a man who began his working life as a steamboat captain on the Mississippi. What he actually said was: “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations”
If a couple of old pensioners called Mervyn and Warren insisted that you sit next to them for a minute while they give you the benefit of their advice, you’d be forgiven for respectfully accepting their offer but privately hoping it won’t last longer than the time it takes you to sink the lukewarm cuppa you’ve just been handed by their stony-faced young careworker.
But when those senior citizens are giants of finance (one a swashbuckling 83-year-old multi-billionaire, the other a retired custodian of global levers of finance) – and the advice is their pronouncements on our economic wellbeing, then it is worth taking heed.