It seems the main trait of leadership has always been cowardice. Although, even if Putin was on the front line, I wouldn’t have any respect for him. Being able to lie is another great quality for leaders; witness the UK’s Prime Minister, and countless other politicians around the world. The greatest threat to the world, as always, is the dark side of human nature, and the misfortune of the world is that it has always been ruled and possessed by psychopaths and sociopaths. That’s something even revolutions won’t repair.
When I woke at ten to six and there was a sliver of natural light in the back window, part of me thought the whole world had finally caught fire. I can’t remember ever having seen light in February before 7 am. And the flames are being fanned, let there be no doubt about that, and not just from the East.
I do censor a lot of my life on here especially when it comes to the day job. That’s as it should be, because discretion and impartiality are important, and colleagues have to be able to trust me to exercise exactly those qualities (those of a true leader, he adds). I can, though, say, that the Ukraine tragedy is having an impact on all charities, directly or indirectly, and that I ended up being at my desk for over 13 hours yesterday, partly because of the crisis. It’s an uncomfortable feeling to be so close to something and yet so far away (I said this about Lockdown 1; that having a front-row seat but behind bullet-proof and virus-proof glass has a dislocatory effect on me – apparently dislocatory doesn’t exist as a word but I’m a writer so I’m inventing it, because I know exactly what I mean with it). Writing emails this morning and ending them with “have a lovely weekend” and nearly adding “while the world burns.” In some instances, it’s best to suppress an impulse.
Politics colours everything. I had a conversation with R yesterday (her initial reflection on the war is here) about the guilt that can come with pursuing personal creativity when earth-shattering events are going on. My view is that, whether or not we share everything we create with the public, all our creations carry in them reflections of the world around us, and that everything we create is in fact political in one way or another. It has to be, because however private we might be, we as artists will always have something to say about the human condition. And this time, this crisis, this murderous war, is part of that condition. As I’ve said before – the greatest art is not beautiful; it’s real.
Our youngest is 21 today. When she stopped being a teenager a year ago, there was a certain sense of grief about no longer having any teenage children. Today, last night, when I was writing her birthday poem, I had this sense of pride in her, in all four of them, for having come this far despite my parenting and because of my parenting, however contradictory that sounds. For all the mistakes (and some of them have been bad mistakes driven by my depression and everything around it) I have made, they have turned into good human beings, and for that I am inordinately thankful. Of course, the journey is not yet done, is never done.
AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 13