i remember one or possibly more discussions with my mum and dad,in the hallway of our first family home,when i must have been i suppose 8 or 9 years old.i asked my dad why the world was so hard,so cruel,so difficult.And for that matter why life was hard too…..
i don;t recall the details yet,but i do remember him saying in the caring way he did,that i would have to get used to it,and deal with it as it was.i tried.i always felt it was well intended.i did feel cared for,very much by them both.And yet,part of me i think vowed that it did not have to be this way,and that i would try to find another way
I am just and ordinary man,just like i was an ordinary boy,and i don’t have heroic intentions that i will prove everyone else wrong,but that somehow i would have to take part in efforts to live another way.That impulse might be in abeyance sometimes but its never left me.And i still wrestle with that impulse….
It led me to choose to be a social worker,partly driven by being a christian believer,that if that path means anything it has be lived and acted on.As a socialist,which is where christianity also led me,whilst i knew that becoming a social worker was largely about amelioration of some distress of some people some of the time-of plastering over the cracks-something was better than nothing.And i chose to train as a social worker rather than as a priest with a strong feeling,i might almost call it inspiration or calling that i needed to “get my hands dirty” with the people i was concerned about….
Forty years on,i have come to the end of that”career”.Although the last few years of it were difficult and indeed,i realise with hindsight,personally damaging.im not a masochist but given the time again,i would undoubtedly dothe same,although at the riskof contradicting myself-knowing what i know now,were i to be at the beginning again-i may well NOT take the same path.My grades would not have been good enough.I’m not sure i would want to put myself through the hoops students,especially in social work related activities seem to have to go through.A they say i do think i would even get of the starting block.All said and done though,i feel it was a great privelege to do such work.Not because of the employers but thanks to the people i regarded myself as working with and for-those very people in distress and difficulty.
i’m certain the same impulse led me to become and to remain a revolutionary socialist all my adult life.There may have been times when i have been in”remission”,less active but it has never left me.
In turn i learned to describe how i felt as reflective or symptomatic of my”alienation”,which for me is dominated by a sense of being at odds with or out of synchronisation with the world,estranged,ill at ease with it.When i discovered Karl Marx i quickly found his theory of alienation and felt i understood and felt it.That was a key step in my intellectual development .
Given the way i feel i described”dropping out”of employment,which is another story and resulted in me obtaining early medical retirement,all that sense of alienation and feeling at od with the world reasserted itself with avengeance.The understanding i had with myself,of learning to be”content,with my discontent”fell apart.Although I had to make a new covenant with myself,i learned to cope i suppose…..
Coming to terms with change is i think difficult for most people.I like to think i might be better than some at change,at least theoretically prepared for it,but it seems to always remain difficult!I can’t really tell i the transition is complete,but i guess I am beginning to find my way.
I cry everyday,which is symptomatic of the condition i now seem stuck with.it does however confirm negatively that i could no longer do the job i was doing.The pressure would be too great and too destructive for me.It would not help those i would work with either.yet it confirms positively that i still have my feelings,my humanity,my empathy and that i have not become cynical,jaded,inured to sufferring.And now i can relate to people on different terms.
Amongst other things it confirms that i was right to stick with my own thought,when i was 8 or so….that it does NOT have to be this way!In fact i think,life so far has taught me several things.My dad was right that it teaches how little we know,but that it has also given me the experience and some sort of knowledge that WE can MAKE LIFE and the WORLD at least a little different.Not perfect but better,with OUR self activity as a class at its centre,and to make it for OURSELVES,TOGETHER and to SHARE.We have a world to win!