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  • Writer's pictureMarion Macleod

So you've been 'languishing' - why not share your musings!

I discovered that, whilst, in lockdown for the sixth time and over 200+ days, I was feeling a little ho-hum. Then I discovered there is a term for my condition and there you have it, I felt instantly better. I can admit to 'languishing'.

To turn my languishing into something useful, I started reading some of the old classics and found some incredible insights that helped me understand the human condition even if not letting me feel better about it.

Those that I'd like to highlight today are from Adam Smith, credited with being the founder of Economics, and Lord Acton, on ethics and morality.
Both look to the failings of the human being especially when given advantage or power. Adam Smith's book, 'Moral Sentiments', as a precursor to his ground-breaking 'Wealth of Nations', outlines the nature of people. Smith, recounts morality as a matter of social psychology. Certain rules of action generate a well-functioning society. When they are followed, society prospers, and when they are not, it is destroyed.

Then, Lord Acton, an English historian, politician and writer of the 19th Century, whose well-known quote, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" provides some rare insights into the human psyche, ".... the tendency of the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it".
Of recent times many of the qualities discussed by Smith and Acton would seem to be wanting, especially amongst our ruling classes. These insights of both, could have been explaining the behaviour of some modern leaders. Their blatant use of their office to sanctify their positions.

Reading these lessons from history puts more recent events into an historical perspective and sadly, whilst, much in life has certainly improved over the centuries, our human nature does not appear to be one of them. Our democracy indeed feels fragile as we see the rise of some crazy thinking born of 'alternative facts'. This feeds into our very planetary existence. Oh, to have some leadership that is prudent, just and beneficent!


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