Staying sane in this age
Rudyard Kipling’s biggest contribution to poetry (and life) is arguably which he penned in 1895 (published 1910).
“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you . . . And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!”
Literature abounds with advice and guidelines regarding our choices and attitudes which determine how we cope with our particular journeys – the successes and challenges, the relationships and lifestyles, the disappointments and significant achievements.
Kipling’s advice to his son for his life’s journey surely stands at the helm of that body of literature in its simplicity and emphasis on sound judgement, coping skills and integrity.
Few would disagree that life has become more complex in the digital and social media age . . . that the proliferation of fake news, powerful attempts at manipulation of the media, unprecedented corruption scope and levels, and a highly volatile political climate put the coping skills of most of us to the test.
We also have to contend with change that is so rapid and so technologically all-encompassing that the world as we know it will be vastly different within 20 years… the demise of the fossil fuel industry is predicted, electronic vehicles on call (fewer owned by individuals and operating at different levels above ground), 3D printing used for all manner of construction… the list goes on.
Are the principles of Kipling’s poem applicable today and in the future?
If Kipling were to have penned his poem of advice during the 21st century, it may have gone something like this: “If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs to WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter.
If you can dream and not let social media own you,
If you can go with the flow – nor lose perspective
Of the people and nature around you,
You will smell the roses and – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!”
We owe it to ourselves and the next generation to keep our heads, to maintain a healthy perspective and to embrace nature and the world around us.