I’m writing a series of blog posts exploring the books “How to be Free” and “The Idle Parent” written by Tom Hodgkinson. I enjoyed a lot of the ideas expressed in these books, and think that exploring them further will help me to explore the principles behind my own way of living and parenting.
Chapter 24 – Self-Important Puritans Must Die – WE ARE NOTHING
Tom tells us that Puritanism, where pre-destination is doctrine, and where you believe in the notion that wealth and success are signs of God’s approval – then you become insufferable. Much better to live for the moment. Subscibe instead to the teachings of Jean-Paul Sartre – if all is meaningless and nothing, then why not enjoy it? Puritanism was born of resentment, of other people having more than you, more fun than you. It’s all about jealousy.
Today it’s not Puritanism, instead it’s consumerism and the “job” culture. If you have a big car, wear the right trainers, have the better job or more money then you are somebody.
Let’s not follow the rules of anybody though. Nobody is telling u
s to burn our phones – just to follow our own lead. We don’t actually matter, so eat, drink and be merry.
How does this match up to the ink-spots-and-grass-stains life?
Here’s another chapter which I’m not really in tune with. I don’t buy that “we are nothing”. Certainly, we are not as important as we sometimes think we are – I sit through some mind-numbing meetings listening to people discussing things as though they think that they are actually making a difference, which they are not.
I do think though that the hedonistic “eat, drink and be merry” suggestion takes things a little far. Sure, we aren’t in this for our ticket to heaven, but surely we can try to leave the world a little better than we found it for future generations, or for the neighbours that live around us? It isn’t self-important to try to be a good person, or to do things for others, it’s just neighbourly. Also, I don’t subscribe to any chapter which begins “….. must die”, it’s a little far-fetched!