Greenock Telegraph 19th June 2020

Brave New World

My favourite book is Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’. It is a savage critique of the fallacy of a man made, genetically controlled perfect society. The reason the book works is that Huxley has created a world without worry. It subtly seduces the reader with the idea of a comfortable stress-free existence where everyone conforms and “everyone is happy now”. And let’s be honest in real life individuals can be really annoying. Covid19 has highlighted this. New rules have been created to help us all get through a health pandemic and yet some folk will not conform. This ranges from senior government advisers and ministers exuding the superior than thou attitude that they can interpret rules to suit their needs, to folk ignoring distancing, refusing to wear a mask, visiting family and friends when it is inappropriate and generally picking and choosing their version of what they can do with no respect for others.

But just as in the book, individuality is crucial to us as human beings. If you remove choice, then we are all poorer. There will always be people who abuse their rights as an individual and transform that into a selfish disregard for everyone else’s feelings. But if we allow those people to push us into a society where conformity is everything then we all lose. Individuality and all the complexities and frustrations that entails used responsibly and mixed with a compassion for the common good will stand us in good stead through this crisis, and after it, when we adjust to the new normal. A normal where we respect individuality within a new society where we need to respect each other’s space.