By Bernie Bell

I read a Haiku by Bartholomew Barker which goes….


When corporations

Profit more off the problem

Than the solution

Succinct, to the point – few words – much meaning.  Bartholomew is writing of the situation in America re. gun control.  Every time there is a mass shooting ( what is happening, that I am even writing those words? – ‘Every time’), there is an outcry and public agitation for increased gun control. Then, it all goes quiet again.

Maybe because those calling for gun control are mostly ordinary people who are tired of the home-grown terror produced by the fact that just about anyone can have a gun. But – they don’t have the power to effectively change the situation.  They can vote – but how many do?

Even among the ordinary people there are those with the idea that somehow they must have the ‘right’ to own a gun.  The thinking appears to be something like  – ‘If I have a gun, other people with guns won’t dare to shoot at me.’ The whole Nuclear deterrent non-sense all over again.

But it’s just as likely that the gun control situation is never properly addressed because the Money-men are making and selling the guns.  Guns are big business, at home and abroad.  The Money-men are often hand in glove with The Powers That Be, backing them financially and politically. 

And so we have – Gridlock. Gun control vs. ‘Freedom’ and Gun control vs. Money-men.

Bartholomew also wrote of this in his poem ‘How to Create a Killer’……

How to Create a Killer

It’s easy

Subtract kindness

Add grievance

leave a trail of blood

in the television spotlight

red as maple leaves

in autumn

Surely these incidents are the fruit of the gun gridlock.  No guns = no shooting.

If anyone reading this is asking  – what do I know, I’m not American, have never even been there – fair enough – write your own piece and let us know how you see it.  I’m writing of how I see it, and how Bartholomew’s poem presents Gridlock so succinctly – and I believe not only in relation to guns – his words can have various applications.

I was reminded of Ben Elton’s 1991 novel ‘Gridlock’  which deals with petrol rather than guns, but presents a similar scenario relating to oil. 

Oil – we know that the excessive use of oil is damaging the planet and its people either through emissions, or plastic pollution.

When Covid first hit and Lockdown happened across the globe people weren’t driving as much and ‘planes weren’t flying anything like as much. Not only did areas of the world benefit from a more peaceful existence than they’d had for years, but also emissions went to a low not experienced for decades. There was much talk of the benefits of this difference in the world around us and of trying to continue to limit, for example air traffic, even after the Pandemic had eased.

The Pandemic hasn’t eased, though governments encourage people to think that it has.  Restrictions were lifted and the ‘planes took off again, just as though nothing  had happened.  And why?  Because there is too much big business money tied up in air traffic for any real curb to be placed on flights, regardless of their effect on air quality, sound pollution and climate change.

And now I come back to Ben Elton’s ‘Gridlock’, where petrol and cars are the culprits.  Same story as with air traffic.  Too many cars, having  a devastating effect on world health in so many ways.  Yet – very little really being done about it – no curbs on manufacture and a very slow move to less emissions and electric cars. By the time more of us can afford electric cars and the old polluting cars have finally all worn out, will the situation have moved to a point of no return?

Ben Elton published ‘Gridlock’ in 1991 and things have changed since then, partly for the better, but the message of that book is still the same – what happens when a Gridlock is reached between the big business money-men, and what is actually best for people and the planet? 

And so, we are back  with Bartholomew Barker’s ‘Gridlock’ too.

It’s probably how it’s always been in human society, but there are more of us now – using more – demanding more – damaging more.

Where do we go from here?  How do we break the Gridlock?

6 replies »

  1. I agree with you and Mr. Elton. My haiku describes how we got in the climate crisis and the healthcare crisis in my country. (I know your NHS isn’t perfect but would you rather live in the States where you could go bankrupt if a family member gets really sick or where you could die because you can’t afford treatment?) It’s also why we won’t get out of either crisis until we get money out of politics. Democracy is drowning in dark money.

    • “Democracy is drowning in dark money.”

      You’ve done it again…few words…much meaning.

      And meanwhile The Blob is still in charge here, so how long will our NHS last?

      I honestly thought he’d be out – but – well, It would take a majority of his own people to turn against him for that to have worked, and they are Tories – tend to do what they’re told by authority figures – and always looking to the money.

      The only thing to do today is pulling up weeds in the garden – imagining….

      • The Blob is still here because only 41% of Tory MPs care about his lies etc. Interestingly that also corresponded to a poll of Tory members when only 42% wanted to ditch him as leader. Says it all about Tory mindsets

      • The advantage authoritarians have is they do what they’re told. It’s just their nature. Fortunately they’re a minority, so we have a chance, if the rest of us are paying attention.

        Maybe pulling weeds is a good metaphor for something.

  2. I just received an email from a well-wisher saying ….”blobulus non carborundum”.

    And I won’t – but I’m not being sent to Rwanda in 7 days time.

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