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Mahatma Gandhi once said:

"A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history."

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Who's failing who?

Polly,

After several hours of introspection and self analysis (what else can you do in a darkened room), I have emerged from the reckless indulgences of last night to find myself displeased with my slipping morals. You are right...the frivolous courting of favour with well known names was diverting me from our mission. Anyway, The Guardian is bound to moderate me out soon for harassment. I humbly acknowledge that I was seduced by my fleeting notoriety and as a result my moral compass needs some fine tuning.

As if to rub salt in the wound and totally sober me up, I came upon this article on the tragic costs of the credit crunch on the bankers themselves. I feel I have been unkind with my recent jibes attributing blame to the city financiers who are tumbling into disrepute. Don't get me wrong, there are real accountabilities to be owned up to, but this blame culture needs to be managed with a certain regard. I sit very uncomfortably when tragic individual stories unfold from behind the banking meltdown. It's easy to slip into the catharsis of tarring all bankers as irresponsible but perhaps we are not entirely honourable in casting our whitewashed judgements with such candour. This economic crisis is fact and solutions must be found, but lets put a halt to the bloodlust.

You called for more seriousness....well this whole notion of suicide got me thinking. What is the truth behind suicide rates in Britain..are high achievers...in this case bankers...more at risk? Here are some interesting, if slightly perturbing facts:

There is one suicide every 84 minutes in the UK and Ireland.
Approximately 6 300 people take their lives each year. (This is double the number of deaths from road accidents and twelve times the numbers of murders.)

Depressing though this is, it is important to hang in here with me Polly, because this is a much larger problem that extends beyond bankers and there is a reluctance to tackle this head on.

Men account for 75% of suicides in the UK and men in unskilled employment are twice as likely to kill themselves as other men in the general population.

The disappearance of traditional manufacturing jobs has a part to play and the risk of suicide in unemployed men is three times higher than in the general population.

The rates amongst vets and farmers are higher than the general population.

Marriage is a protective factor.

The figures suggest that men are reluctant to talk about problems, go to their GP or seek psychological support.

This notion of a link between high achievement and suicide presents an angle that demands a definition of success. Certainly high achievers are prone to depression which is indeed a contributary factor. Neverthless suicide has strong links with poverty, family break up, academic pressure, substance misuse, mental illness and physical and sexual abuse.

Each individual has his own definition of success and when a respected banker 'fails' by losing his credibility is it self-judgment or the commonly held view? He had much to live for but felt he had no other choice. Is a city banker so different to the Indian farmer whose crops fail him and he ends up in debt? The tragic family circumstances have many emotional parallels. Both fathers who felt there was no other option. Why do we find it easier to sympathize with the Indian farmer? When we vent our spleen on the city high flyers who were instrumental in the economic crash perhaps we should ask ourselves just who is failing who?

Is that serious enough Polly?

Ivor X

PS Need to chill out in the woods this weekend. Will be back reinvigorated on Monday.

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