It was Max who wrote recently about the world going to hell in a handcart...though she didn't phrase it quite like that and I've been thinking about it...on and off...since reading her blog.

I think it's probably part of the human condition to find all that is wrong with our world...whether that is a rising crime rate or the price of a loaf of bread or the fact the people we voted for don't appear to have the first idea of how to go about it efficently.

And being surrounded by the news...updated every few minutes in some cases...about riots and poll rigging and the cost of living...not to mention the natural disasters which befall some areas...makes us feel helpless and powerless. We have a basic need to be in control to a certain extent of our own destinies and yet the way most of us live that basic need has been taken away...we are at the mercy of others and whatever we do or say appears to make virtually no difference.

Now go back in time a little...a hundred and fifty years ago perhaps when there was a clear divide between the have and the have-nots and poverty was considered to be a sin of the slothful and lazy...when in England and Ireland anyone with little education became a servant to someone more powerful than they...who had complete control over your day to day living and social arrangements. Back just another fifty years sees the beginning of the Industrial Revolution when machines became god and people who had laboured with craft skills using their hands and simple equipment in their homes were faced with pure poverty...weavers and dyers and lace makers...and very many more examples of people who were left high and dry with the advent of machinery in the workplace.

Back another couple of hundred years sees civil wars fought...neighbour fighting neighbour and friend killing friend on battlefields. Just how many of those people clearly understood the causes of the battles they fought...just as how many of the young lads going out to foreign countries nowadays understand the the real reason they are there with their tanks and guns...the weapons have changed...but the young men who are maimed and killed are much like their counterparts in the English Civil War...the American Civil War and the Irish fight for independence.

Some of us have the 'wrong' religion...we don't fit neatly into the scheme of things...the Christians didn't fit into Roman society and were used as bait for wild animals in public arenas...now we are afraid of Muslims. Just as the English were terrified of Roman Catholics and went so far as to behead and torture those who practised their faith.

We are alarmed by pedophiles and won't allow our children to play in a public park unless we are there to watch them every step of the way...but the Victorians had brothels where small boys and girls were freely available for the rich men who wanted to indulge their vices...and the Roman men thought nothing of having sex with the boys who frequented the public baths built especially for the purpose.

Maybe we think we are somehow different...with our satellite televisions and our crooked policticans...perhaps we think we ought to have a more of a perfect world where natural disasters didn't happen and the threat of global warming was simply the stuff of science fiction...I haven't the faintest idea of what my ancestors thought about the world they lived in...my eight times gt Grandfather, who was a yeoman farmer in Lincolnshire, was beholden to the King of England in virtually every step he took...he had many children and farm servants and much land...but I would imagine his concerns would mirror ours today. How was he going to pay his taxes...was it going to be a good harvest or would it rain non-stop all summer long...would he be able to give every servant a Christmas gift...would some of them simply leave and go off to fight in a war far away because they'd been promised better pay...whatever was he going to do about his eldest daughter who was lusting after a village lad...did he object to public hangings...did he think the King was a fool...did he worry himself into sleepless nights because the bailiff was visiting next week and would want to see the farm records.

We are afraid of criminals breaking into our homes to rob and rape and murder....Victorian England was awash with footpads and highwaymen who thought nothing of robbing coaches and raping the women who travelled in them...walking around London or Dublin was fraught with danger from the casual pickpocket to the stranger high on opium who'd knock you down for whatever cash you carried in your pocket...

Whatever we have to worry about...whether on a global scale or closer to home has been worried about before by people who lived long before us...maybe we need to really take a step back into the world of books and poetry and good art and music. Perhaps if we allowed ourselves the indulgance of becoming enraptured by the sight of a small animal going about its business...became absorbed in a slim volume of poetry...listened to some beautiful aria...

We can change our own personal world and hope that someone else takes note and copies what we do and it will spread...slowly but surely. But to rant against the way of life that we have to live because of circumstances beyond our control, is a waste of our precious energy. Some of us will cause huge changes to be made...some of us will join Greenpeace and sail into dangerous waters to save the whale...some might stand outside a Government building holding a placard...others will travel to far flung places to build dwellings for victims of famine...there will be some who stand up to be counted against needless wars and will suffer as a result. But most of us are just ordinary people doing the very best we can.

There is nothing much new...look back and you'll see history repeats itself over and over again. We learn little from past mistakes...and we need to accept that...hard though it may be.