2 September 2021

Nonsense

"Believe in yourself and follow your dreams!"..."You can be anything you want to be!"... These are expressions that always rankle with me. They are usually doled out by apparently "successful" people who by talent or good fortune happen to be walking in the limelight and seem to imagine that we can all go there if only we believe in ourselves. It is, in my view, utter nonsense.

"You can be what you want to be..." Okay then, what about someone with Down's Syndrome. Could he or she get to be  an astrophysicist? Could a person without legs get to be an Olympic long jumper?  And if everybody desperately wanted to be the prime minister of this fair kingdom how would that happen when at any time there can only be one vacancy?

If everybody got to be what they wanted to be, the world would be filled with pop singers, professional footballers, novelists, ballet dancers and film stars. We would all be living in mansions with swimming pools and remote control gateways through which we would swish by in Italian sportscars.

Who would sweep the streets? Who would pick the vegetables? Who would dig the drainage trenches? Who would clean aircraft cabins in the middle of the night? Who would nurse poorly patients in hospitals? Who would drive the buses and the trains and who would cut the grass? Who would service conveyor belts in factories or fix broken streetlights or bake bread or paint railings? Utter nonsense.

As I have been writing this, two women have appeared across the street in an old silver car. They have climbed out and got their stuff from the back - buckets and mops etcetera. They have come to clean Number 175 as they do every week. Do you think that this is what they wanted to be - domestic cleaners? But it's a job that needs doing. Somebody's got to do it and they are nobly earning cash to support their families instead of following their dreams. It's the same with the pair of helpers who every day visit housebound Eileen at Number 184. Being what they want to be? No way - but still fulfilling an important role in our society.

If you truly believe that we can all be what we want to be, please keep that trite opinion to yourself while the rest of us just get on with living, accepting the cards that have been dealt to us, trying to be happy.

32 comments:

  1. A friend's daughter is a science graduate.
    Years ago she worked in a call centre.
    She told me that the company had cut the bonus of sales' agents by 60 per cent.
    So they only had their minimum wage and a much reduced bonus.
    There was no union so the workers were powerless to negotiate a better deal.
    Tony Billionaire Blair was Prime Minister at this time, Scotland had its own Parliament.

    Shortly after this the call centre had a recruitment campaign.
    Company ads on buses read:
    *You see a world without limits. We share your vision.*
    This was the ad agency's idea of Be Who You Want To Be.

    *The evil is not work, the evil is ill-paid drudgery* : Bernard Shaw.
    The wealth of our free market economy did not trickle down as Mistress Thatcher assured us.

    Globalisation is the cause of stagnant wages, not the EC, as Cambridge economist Victoria Bateman said.
    Haggerty

    P.S. Read the diaries of the former editor of The Financial Times.
    *The Powerful and the Damned* by Lionel Barber is now in paperback.
    See Lionel Barber on YouTube.
    He interviewed Vladimir Putin.

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    1. "You see a world without limits. We share your vision." The slogan ought to have been changed to "You see a modern day sweat factory. We steal your packed lunch."

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    2. The call centre's recruitment slogan might have been:
      *You dream of a world without limits. We share your dream.*
      The adman must have been laughing at his own twaddle.

      My late brother used to say of Tony Blair: *He believes his own lies.*
      My brother disliked the way Blair tried to flirt with his audience.
      I never quite figured if Bambi was male or female or in between.

      The Financial Times backed Labour during the Blair years, then supported David Cameron (instead of Gordon Brown) who gave us the EC referendum.

      On 17 March 2017 Lionel Barber interviewed Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, who described Brexit as a tragedy.

      *I have met two destroyers,* Juncker said, *Gorbachev who destroyed the Soviet Union and Cameron who destroyed the United Kingdom to some extent, even if there is no wave in Scotland to become independent.*

      Haggerty




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    3. I think that Blair still believes there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Along the way he also forgot what Labour should stand for. Sadly, he became what we in Yorkshire call a ****ing tosser.

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  2. I may have the wrong end of the stick but I read that as 'be WHO you want to be' not 'be WHAT you want to be' I'm wondering if it refers to being yourself and not a person you want others to think you are.
    Or am I just pedantic ?
    Briony
    x

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    1. You are right to suggest that in this regard there is a big difference between "who" and "what".

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  3. I guess I'm a believer that if one truly believes in themselves, they can be whatever they set out to be. Someone with Down's Syndrome might be an astrophysicist but perhaps not at the same caliber as one who works for Nasa. A person without legs may be able to jump long distances and qualify for the para Olympics. I would hypothesize, those ladies cleaning number 175 are doing so not because they dreamed of doing so but because they failed to dream.

    I think what sets people apart is their ability to focus on dreams enough to accomplish them. I have achieved great things in my life when I applied focus and determination. I have also dreamed of things I have never accomplished because I was unable to focus or wasn't determined to make them a reality.

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    1. Thanks for your honest and thoughtful reflections Ed.

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  4. Just being happy sounds good.

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    1. It's hard enough to hang on to the slippery gift of happiness.

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  5. Yes. You've pointed out something that irks me quite a bit. And I think that here in America we're especially prone to this sort of wishful thinking. If you work hard, pull yourself up by your bootstraps (supposedly you at least have boots to begin with), and have the right attitude, you can do or be anything.
    And the truth is, we all begin life at very different places on the starting line. Not to mention the fact that some people aren't interested in the race at all.

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    1. The idea of the race is indeed an anathema to many people. I might be one of them.

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  6. You might swish. I would never swish.

    As for the remainder of this post, your point is well-taken. Also pretty obvious to anyone with half a brain.

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    1. If you were wearing a taffeta ballgown you might swish Bob.

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  7. I agree in general, but maybe those cleaners are proud to have their own business. I even heard of a Down's sufferer who has her own secure document disposal business in which she loves operating the shredder and provides an extra level of security because she can't read. I changed careers out of accountancy in my mid-twenties into something I chose to do, a gamble that worked out, and I believe you went to university late, too. "Follow your dreams so long as they are realistic" is fine, although it is probably harder now than in past decades.

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    1. Dream within current perameters. Avoid outlandish dreams.

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  8. I agree with you. My older daughter has the philosophy that some people realize their dreams/aspirations through their job and others put in their required time and live out their aspirations outside of work. The key to happiness is knowing which group you're in. My husband and I were mostly in the first group but the majority of our friends were in the second.

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    1. What did you do for a living Margaret?

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    2. For 37 years I was a high school French teacher.

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  9. Roger Scruton said that *unscrupulous optimism* may lead to a totalitarian state.
    Bernard Shaw invested so much optimism in the Soviet Union that he kindly overlooked the murder of millions of Soviet citizens by Stalin and Beria.

    *I and We are a very odd couple-The Uses of Pessimism and the Danger of False Hope.*
    Irish Examiner (online).
    A review of Scruton's The Uses of Pessimism and John Flynn's The Cynic's Handbook.

    Saul Bellow said being *positive* can be just another racket.
    There is nothing more negative than Orwell's *1984* which is really about 1948.

    Steve Lowe and Alan McArthur wrote *Is it Just Me or is Everything Shit?* (2005).
    It is self-described as The Encyclopedia of Modern Life.
    Haggerty

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    1. Yes indeed...the notions of false hope and unrealistic optimism have already been reflected upon by learned writers and philosophers throughout the centuries of printing.

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  10. In agreement, Mr. Pudding. Like many thoughts that have been shortened even further to fit in a meme, this one has a grain of truth but it is also an unrealistic notion on its own. Encouragement is good, but pushing unrealistic expectations can be as harmful as outright squashing of aspirations. A middle road is best, but middle roads aren't catchy nor are they deemed inspirational. It's yet another reason why I avoid social media, because there are far too many of these slick, sentimental sayings being promoted on Facebook and Twitter, and unfortunately for me at least, some of them have found a home in the feeds of my relatives!

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    1. Some people do achieve their dreams but not everybody can get there. You are right to say that the middle road is less suitable for trite sloganising.

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  11. Lazy people lacking ambition and drive. They need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, just like my hero Donald who went on to become the widely respected leader of the best country on earth. (Surely that was more interesting than just saying, I agree)

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    1. Ha-ha! Nice one Andrew!...But I thought your hero was Buzz Lightyear.

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    2. No young children staying here at the moment under lockdown, so no Toy Story. I can't wait for the theme music from Tro Tro to become a flea in your ear.

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  12. And then there are some people who are complete bumblers. They have no clue what they want to be or do. they do not have any goals. Somehow they get lucky and drop into something. That describes your faithful follower from Alberta.

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    1. Most people bumble through life - riding the ups and the downs like a rollercoaster.

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  13. It is something that irks me, too. I guess this "You can be whatever you want to be" is meant as an encouragement, and it may work very well for many. But we have also to honestly and realistically accept the limits that are undeniably there. Could I have become a Sumo wrestler? Would a Sumo wrestler be able to become a jockey? Did my late great-uncle Otto have the potential to become a ballet dancer? (He was born with a crooked spine and had a humpback.)
    Also, if a girl or woman in Afghanistan stood in front of her father or husband and told them that she wanted to become a [insert dream job], I doubt she'd be met with encouragement and applause. So, no, not everyone can be anything (or anyone) they want to be, no matter how focused.

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    1. Your comment emphasises my central point so I rather like it.

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  14. Ha! I see your point, but I think telling kids to be what they want to be is simply meant to help them set goals and aspire to bigger things. Of course circumstances intervene and not everyone gets there -- but SOME do, right?

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  15. It IS trite, though. I'll give you that.

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.

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