I usually use poems in my Wednesday Words, but I've been doing a lot of thinking and reading in the last week about Margaret Thatcher and her impact on our society. Her death has polarised parts of the country, raising up old grievances and encouraging new ones, and she is shown as either sinner or saint. I would propose that she is, like all of us, both of those things.
One of the first quotes I want to look at, is one that is often part quoted. It is the full section of the quote that includes "There's no such thing as society." which when taken as a pure sentence, out of context of the rest of the paragraph, is a terrible thing to say, and comes across as very ignorant. The full context of the speech though, is this.
“I think we've been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it. 'I have a problem, I'll get a grant.' 'I'm homeless, the government must house me.' They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation." (1987)
There is a vast difference between what is read into one sentence, and what is seen in the whole paragraph. I look at the playground, and there are far too many people with a sense of entitlement, without having met any obligations. I don't mean the disabled, the ill, the veteran, I mean the lazy, the unwilling to work, the shirker. I don't mean those like my ex-husband who filled in over 130 job applications, for any job going. I mean those who don't even open the paper to look.
She also said something in which I believe very firmly - not a political thing, but a general concept which I have tried to pass on to every child I have ever come in contact with.
“I do not know anyone who has gotten to the top without hard work. That is the recipe. It will not always get you to the top, but it will get you pretty near.
It's a simple principle, don't you think? You work hard, stuff gets done, you get further. You don't, it doesn't, and you stay where you are.
Or how about this one, for the X-factor generation
“It used to be about trying to do something. Now it's about trying to be someone.”
Half of my class want "to be famous." No idea what at, or why, but they want the fame, the plaudits, but they want it given to them, not earned through the hard work of the perpetually gigging band, or the comedian doing the circuit. Just handed to them.
My last quote, and there are many to chose from, is this one.
It was a lovely morning. We have not had many lovely days. And the sun was just coming through the stained glass windows and falling on some flowers right across the church and it just occurred to me that this was the day I was meant not to see.
I chose it because it refers to the Brighton bombing in which she was not assassinated, although that was the plan. 5 people were killed, 31 injured. She carried on the conference, carried on the attitude towards the IRA, wouldn't let the country be bullied into acquiescence in the same way that every day I tell my son to stand up for what he believes in. She left the conference and visited the injured. She carried on in what has been since described as a Churchillian attitude.
I think for me, regardless of her politics, some of which I agreed with, some of which I didn't, it was this attitude that makes me admire her. It's all going to hell around her. The miners strike is on, the country is struggling to recover from years of Union bullying, 5 of her colleagues are dead and others are seriously injured, or have wives who are seriously injured (Norman Tebbits wife spent the rest of her life in a wheelchair) and yet she carried on.
Some days, all we can do is appreciate the lovely days, the ones we were not meant to see.