Over the Christmas break my office received letters and calls about power cuts in the area.
Most just wanted to know when their lights might come back on and if they were going to get to cook their Christmas dinner.
But several were full of bile and anger about the electricity companies and their efforts to get the network repaired.
Now, if you’re in the position of the lady running a care home, whom The News reported was very worried about the condition of her charges, shout away all you like as far as I‘m concerned.
But if you’re in no danger and just inconvenienced, I’m not so sure there’s quite so much to get angry about.
I understand the enormous frustration of losing power at such a special time. But hang on a second, surely people must have noticed all the damage?
Just driving around anywhere in Hampshire, it was blindingly obvious that there were many, many trees down. This had been no normal weather event. It took a couple of days just to get all the trees off the roads, for goodness sake.
And do you suppose it’s possible that the companies might, at the outset at least, have been a little short-staffed but trying their hardest? Or that they had to choose some tasks (like reconnecting a care home) over others?
I only raise this because it makes me think a little more widely about how we think about things nowadays.
I don’t know why things have changed, but we seem to see things in a very narrow way now.
This issue isn’t just about complaints or sound bites – although we do seem to have a culture of ‘instant outrage’ these days to anything we disagree with.
It’s about thinking that deliberately discounts complexity or background as a mitigating factor and focuses entirely on the interests of the thinker.
So, for many, immigration is simply a bad thing, despite the fact that almost all analysis shows that the right type and pace of immigration is a good thing; large companies and their bosses think it’s acceptable to pay no tax in the UK despite the fact that much of the market they exploit is helped by government spending; building more houses is a blight even though there’s an ever-increasing need.
The world we live in nowadays is more complex, more globalised, more nuanced and more challenging to deal with than at any time in history. I think we owe it to ourselves and to others to bring a little more of that complexity into how we think about issues.