August 12, 2011
Today I was listening to a book by Douglas Adams, part of the “Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” series. This book was calledMostly Harmless . These two words were, after much editing and re-editing, all that remained of the Guide’s entry on an obscure little blue and green planet called Earth.

But this is all beside the point. What jumped out at me today was a blink-and-you’d-miss-it little gem in a dialogue between Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect, who are bickering with each other in their usual manner. It concluded something like this:

Arthur: “I think we have different value systems.”

Ford: “Mine’s better.”

Arthur: “That’s because…. oh, never mind.”

And in that throwaway line, I thought, lies the root of all human conflict since time immemorial. We each, by definition, believe that our own value system is the best. And the real danger comes when we confuse belief with truth, and try to impose it on somebody else.

Some “truths”, of course, can be proved by science. But even here we have to be careful. 500 years ago, we knew for sure that the Sun moved around the Earth. 1000 years ago, we knew the Earth was flat. It’s easy to laugh at such notions now, but at the time these were generally accepted “facts”. Truth may be more subjective than we like to think.

Personally, I’m quite happy for someone to believe the moon is made of blue cheese if they want to, provided that they don’t try to convince me of the same, and that there are no dire consequences of their belief. And herein lies the rub. The Norwegian gunman must have believed, on some level, that what he was doing was right, or at least justifiable. Religion, abortion, racism – the scope for ideological clashes is infinite. And I get the feeling that we are going to encounter these clashes more and more as the Earth becomes a more stressed and stressful place.

We are all living in the same world, seeing similar things, yet drawing different conclusions from the same evidence. I doubt if there are two people reading this blog who share precisely the same worldview, but we can still get along together. We can agree to amicably disagree where necessary. Tolerance doesn’t seem to be very fashionable at the moment, but my word, we are going to need it if there is to be any hope of a, umm, tolerable future.

Other Stuff:

A bit less bouncy today, thank heavens. Still the occasional boatfiller of a wave, but fewer than the last few days. And I ended the day nearly forty nauties (aka nautical miles) to the good. Even a momentary panic with the electrical system turned out to be a loose connection rather than anything more serious. Hurrah!

Another thought-provoker in “Mostly Harmless” – it refers to there being 5.5 billion people on the planet. I think it was written in the 1980s. We have just hit 7 billion, of whom the last 1 billion have appeared in the last 10 years. Clearly not sustainable…

Pippa – I’ve been having a problem with mouldy sprouts too. I have two different mixes. The mix of smaller pulses is fine, but the one with peanuts and chickpeas is a problem. But it is quite edible provided it is well soaked (12 hours), even if they haven’t actually sprouted. And yes, I do keep my grotty old gloves. I’ve already got through about 6 pairs this voyage. We took some of my Pacific ones and got them nicely made up in box frames with a signed photo. Might do the same again this time around.

Mark – it does take a while to reacquire my land legs, but a rocking bed sensation is not a problem. Oooh, I can’t wait to sleep in a proper bed with nice clean, crisp, fragrant sheets!

Currin – thanks for the top tips on Tim Tam consumption (nice alliteration there!). Luckily Lesley also gave me some sachets of instant caramel latte mix. Will attempt the technique, although suspect that a rocking boat may prove too much for such a delicate maneouvre.

Richard Kiyak and Green Goddess Organic Chocolate – I wish I’d known about you before I set out. Can you arrange an airdrop?! (joking – that would of course be very environmentally unfriendly). Most impressed that you use no plastic in your packaging. Keep up the great work!

Inky – hope to see you in London for the Olympics. Make sure you give me a shout nearer the time, and we’ll have to get together. Maybe we can go for a ride on Boris’s Bikes!

Sylvia!!! Lovely to hear from you, and thanks for the jokes. They made me smile. Do you and Becky still tell each other jokes to pass the time during the dreaded “plank”?! Love to all in Salcombe (ah, happy memories of mega-yummy savoury muffins and caramel lattes in Salcombe Coffee Shop!)

Quote for the day: It is always easier to fight for one’s principles than to live by them. (Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler)

Sponsored Miles: Megan Lutz, Doug Grandt and an anonymous donor sponsored some of today’s miles – grateful thanks.