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Dear 2014

Hello the New Year.

I trust the transition to January has been relatively painless for you. Now the dust's settled I thought I'd drop you a line, with a few thoughts. Not for me personally you understand, that's all down to me, but a couple of ways which we can improve on the year just gone. Get you remembered a bit more fondly than 2013.

There's going to be a lot of noise and heat generated around various issues and, as is ever the case they tend to get in the way of the issue itself. Take immigration, for example. A lot of rhetoric, a lot of emotion, very little borne out by the actual facts. That economic migrants are of net gain to the economy is drowned out by the more gut-level fear of strangers. It's exploited for cheap points by lazy politicians. This is not to say there aren't issues. Genuine fears need to be addressed, but not patronisingly. Grant our elected representatives the gift of actually being able to hear what people are saying, and the wisdom to sift the genuine concern from the racist little englanders.

In fact, whilst we're on the subject of granting our Parliament magical powers, how about a gift of empathy? It seems a number of the current Governments difficulties could be avoided if they were capable of demonstrating that they gave a fuck about anybody other than their immediate mates. Even the grande projete of welfare reform after IDS' Damescene conversion is very much the State telling people what's good for them, rather than asking or (dare I suggest) listening. The reality gap between the poliical elite and the body politic seems wider than ever, and needs bridging, or things will get worse.

Actually the reality gap between all elites and everybody else needs bridging. 2014, let's see you reminding the big beasts of business that they're people, too. Let's see
the heads of energy firms and banks acknowledge that they don't exist in a bubble, and that the wanton rush for profits diminishes all of us, including them. Let them remember that we're all one species.

I nearly said let some humanity in there, and that in itself is part of the problem. Failure on the part of the general populace to acknowledge that all the excesses and rapacity we've witnessed over the last few years is very human indeed. The urge to self-preservation and self-advancement, albeit at the expense of others is one of the more basic human responses. What needs to be brought to the fore is the more recent invention of self-restraint and control. To recognise that what benefits us may damage the population as a whole. And that's something which holds true throughout society, from the energy boss putting shareholders first and the politicians saving their careers by screwing the ill all the way down to the fly-tipper, the dog walker not cleaning up after themselves, the litterer. All human, all cut from the same cloth.

So yeah, basically, it's not a complicated message, 2014, if you could see your way clear to having people think of others, to listen and to empathise I reckon we'd all have a much nicer time of it. Not too much to ask, is it?

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