Growing Up

Years ago, when I was trying to educate myself about child psychology (Bowlby, Winnicott, people like that) I remember taking on board the idea that maturity was about recognising that other people existed, equally, had their own reality, and that "how I see things" might not be the only way to see things. Fairly basic insight, but just at the moment it seems quite precious.

Two recent articles on this theme. Jeffrey Sachs, not a particular hero of mine (because of his enthusiastic involvement in the "let's educate Russia about capitalism" drive) had a really sensible piece about American exceptionalism, and how the US needed to grow out of the idea that they had a God-given mission to show the rest of the world how it's done. Not world-shaking, not before time, but welcome nonetheless. And the current Ken Burns TV history of the Vietnam war is soaked in that awareness that having their US version of the truth made them miss completely what was going on in the minds of the Vietnamese.

Then there was Peter Hain, writing about Northern Ireland negotiations, and how trivial exchanges - e.g. about a shared interest in football - could actually oil the wheels of high-powered political deliberations. which is exactly what's missing in the Brexit fiasco. All the noise, all the press releases, are about what we want, what we'll do, what we need. Not a glimmer of how things look to the Europeans - who for excellent reasons think we're out of our minds.