We are back after two months in our paradise in the Dordogne. For me it was a first in 25 years, two full months!! We had visits from several friends who shared the hot weather and the delight of living together in a group with us. Two sorts of liquids, water in the pool and white wine in our glasses, helped enormously to bear both 😊😊.
So, what other news is there from Olivier ? After three difficult years due to Covid, inflation is back at a level the young generation has never seen. Be that a direct consequence of the war in Ukraine or an indirect result of speculation, it is bound to inflict harm on the most fragile and small entrepreneurs whom we accompany at MicroStart. But the rise in energy prices will force all of us to reconsider what we really need and to change some of our habits. We are truly in the midst of a genuine paradigm shift. One telling example is the request by the authorities in California to recharge car batteries as little as possible! Although this US state is deemed to be far ahead on their way towards energy transition they have suffered the worst forest fires ever. Not much joy in all of that…
But we do hope that Covid is going to leave us alone so that we can spend quality time with our families and friends again without foregoing kisses, hugs and handshakes! I really and truly suffered from being deprived of close contacts with my friends. All the more so as the added value of my work in the social economy derives mainly from my network, that is you. You all know that a genuine and open exchange of views on various subjects, some of a more personal nature, via Zoom, Teams and the like is simply not possible.
What I am also baffled about is the number of people, not necessarily all morons, who respond to the doubts we are confronted with by adopting conspiracy theories. Actually, why does everything have to change? Have we not enjoyed economic and social progress virtually everywhere in Europe since the end of the 1950’s, and now we are being told that nothing will remain the same? Who is going to benefit? The rich who are getting ever richer will not change their habits because they can afford the price of fuel, raw materials and cope with high inflation rates. Experts predict a steep rise in the number of people falling below the poverty line in Europe!! And why should we welcome, feed and care for the ever increasing masses of foreigners flooding our countries? They say: Stop blaming the climate crisis! What we are looking at is cheap labour stealing our jobs, that’s what I hear more and more often. It is quite obvious that the system we have lived under since the second World War has run out of steam but nobody knows what is to be done. Reduce growth? Get rid of foreigners? These are clearly just short term admissions of helplessness. So, what do we need to change in order to return to prosperity, growth and prospects for the future? Politicians very rarely come up with exciting thoughts or credible solutions which are easy to understand and apply. That’s why we get rid of them, we don’t vote anymore because there is no point, is what you hear more and more often.
People like me who can look back at a successful professional and personal life tend to think that it is up to the young ones to design a new model that works. But have we taught them to consider a major change in our way of life ? We were never confronted with that necessity for ourselves. They are aware that they need to work much harder than us to make a decent living, obviously. These thoughts are not very uplifting, I’m afraid….and, add to that, the older we get the more people we know are leaving us for a world which we can only hope to be a better one.
So, all I can do is rejoice each morning when I get up and when I spend time with my family or friends, sing in our choir, play tennis, cards or boggle and contribute to finding ways and solutions for the organisations I’m involved in. Several of my mandates have been extended but I decided to quit a number of Boards where I was beginning to feel less useful, making way for new enthusiastic inputs.
In conclusion I am telling myself that one needs to stay optimistic, of course. As Confucius famously said: “Pessimism is of mood, optimism is of will”. This is almost as true as Georges Bernanos’ thought: “Optimists are happy fools, pessimists are sad ones” !
Olivier, September 2022