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3 powerful social science ideas for living fully in a highly developed country like the UK

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Do poms whinge?

I’ve only lived in Europe for 4 years. In a new economy, that is a sizeable chunk of time.  Here it is nothing.  Surrounded by old buildings and reminders of a long history, everyone is acutely aware of their insignificance.  To the ear of a new arrival, there seems to be a lot of complaining.  And the constant whine is not a figment of our imagination.  Academics have constructed massive theories about the anomie of Europeans, the malaise of hopelessness, and the prevalent sense that someone powerful makes our lives a misery.

What is fun about living in a highly developed country?

There is another reading of life here that I find more useful.

Being a small part of a large system is invigorating when our understanding of the part we play brings alive our sense of our relationships with other people. The need to tell our story to the strangers around us sharpens our wits as we retell the same story for their appreciation.  And we are drawn into the present as we attend mindfully to changes the ripple across the land.

  • A part implies a whole and a complex whole implies relationships in every direction.  What could be more fascinating for the social animals we are?
  • A stranger needs a quick explanation and often not in words. A courtesy on the underground melds our story with others and is instantly recognizable to them.
  • The world swirling around us draws us in to fast moving events and draws us to horizons and vistas that are breath taking in our mutual recognition of possibility.

Putting my money where my mouth is

Sitting on a grubby train, it can be difficult, I admit, to be anything but disgusted.  And the impulse to withdrawn into our shell is very strong.  I do try to avoid the trains, I must be honest.

  • But what if we thought instead about the wonderful diversity of relationships we have because of our movement.  What would  our commute look like through a filter of “relationships”?
  • What if we were interested in the story of the person next to us (including their desire to sleep if that be their story)?
  • What if we developed a Sherlock Holmes sense of awareness about who was on the train with us and where they were going? If we knew the fields we pass through so well that we knew when the wild flowers were late and when the birds were hungry (or over fed).

Would we then feel out of sorts, put upon and out of control?

The three ideas from social science which suggest whinging is the wrong way to see the UK

Parts and relationships.  Strangers and stories in gestures.  Swirling activity and vistas suddenly appearing on the horizon.

Those are the powerful concepts that challenge the stories of us as hopeless bit-players in someone else’s romance.



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