Saturday, December 20, 2008


So after my happy positive post we have a not-so-cheerful one. Traditionally Christmas is a time for sharing and for spreading happiness around to our family and friends, but is this really happening? The days running up to Christmas are normally hectic and fraught with people having very little time for pleasantries and courtesy. The pressure that we put on each other to buy the perfect gift and send the perfect card is one that seems to have pushed many of us to the edge. Every year we complain about having to rush around and worry ourselves over whether something we bought for our friend or relative is suitable or not. We actually stress ourselves over this small issue to the point of giving ourselves a nervous breakdown.

It is a fact that Christmas is the most stressful time of the year and for those who have little or are living alone, this is the worst part of their whole existence. Society here in the UK has changed so much and it is more apparent to me because I spent four years living in China, so for me the change is more obvious. The economic problems which have left many thousands without jobs and many people in debt has been blamed on money hungry "fat-cats" or bosses of big companies and banks, but in fact we are all to blame. Our own selfishness has got us into this mess. The desire to have what we cannot afford and then borrowing money to pay for the fake lifestyle has been a noose which has been waiting to hang us for many years.

I still remember clearly having a conversation just after my return to the UK in early 2007 about how greedy and materialistic we seem to have become in this country. I even spoke about my fears for the future when the good times come to an end. I even wrote a piece on my previous blog about how this selfish attitude will come back and bite us all on the ass. Well guess happened! After living in China and meeting many-many people who were living in remote areas, away from the small pockets of so-called development and seeing with my own eyes the struggle and difficulty that they must endure everyday to survive, I gained a new perspective on my own life. I realised how selfishness and greed and the need for these stupid trinkets of materialism to be around you actually takes away your humanity. We have become automated buying machines, with no real purpose in the world but to fill our big houses full of useless junk. I'm ashamed to say that I almost became one of those people.

I still clearly remember many of the moments of my time in China that made me stop and realises how many people struggle to survive and through all of the hardships which they endure, they still have the ability to smile and laugh. Their happiness comes from the heart, not the wallet. I hope someday I can visit these places again, if I'm allowed. Sadly in the real world, understanding and compassion are just a token action. We do something nice, not because we want to give, but because we want to feel good about ourselves. Once again the selfish attitude rears its ugly head. For example, a person living in an expensive house, with two new cars parked outside and a TV in every room, decides to donate £10 a month to a charity in Africa. In their mind, for a few moments they can feel satisfied that they have done something and have now justified continuing to sip on their £50 bottle of wine and sit back to watch the usual drivel on their 50" flat screen TV. It is a token act, not done out of kindness, but instead done as a way of justifying their own selfish greed.

Sadly here in the UK and in most developed countries, we have become too comfortable and take everything for granted. We complain about the traffic, When in fact we are the ones who bought the cars, we moan about our debts, when we are the ones who borrowed the money and we moan about our lives, when we are the ones who made living so complicated and turned it into a childish "Mine is better than yours!" game. As the proverb goes; "You reap what you sow" and for many of us harvest-time has come and misery will not be too far behind.

Will we learn from this? ...Probably not.



nictations said...

Those words of yours ring really true to me and to many other people, i'm sure, who have experienced spending this period without enjoying it really for some reason...But it's nice to find out that other people feel concerned about (or by?) these issue of sharing sincerely the one oh two things that we all have.
Thanks for your lessons, they are all very lively and useful, no need to say.
Merry Christmas


سیما said...

Hi Misterduncan
you're right. the real issues of life were lost and the people don't know or actually even don't want to know what is the purpose of life.
I wish for you all of the best things in your life .
I exercise English with your videos every day .thank you
Merry Christmas

Binhbien said...

Hi MisterDuncan!
From Vietnam,a warm greeting to you in this occasion.I am studying English under your guidelines every are right when discussing about the purpose of our life !

Mohammad said...

Dear Misterduncan

It's about two months that I am watching your videos. It's great! I appreciate you.
But what I read right now, got me too close to you. I can Understand you. I can say people who don't want to imitate these stupid behaviors, have to stand on values.

Best Wishes

Anonymous said...

Hi Misterduncan
I am studying English under your guidelines every day. I'm from uae
I want to say Thanks for your lessons.
Best Wishes
sun tears

shineuranus said...

hi misterduncan
how are you
i came across your videos just two days ago,and started downloading them at once.
i think they will help me a great deal in my struggle with learning english.
so i'd like to thank you for your effort and ask you to upload as much videos as you can.
i have a suggestion too
too launch a series about vocabulary and idioms
about this particular topic ,i can't give an opinion coz i'm fighting for the very basics.
thanks misterduncan.

Irina said...

My name is Irina. I am from St-Petersburg, but the last five years I lived in Greece and now I am living in Cyprus and waiting for my specialization that I am planning to finish in Greece in the near future.I am a doctor, but I can not practice my job before I finish my specialization in a hospital.For a while I am working in a russian newspaper in Limassol. To be precise I am working in Russian Help Line. I help russian-speaking people, who don’t know Greek or English and can not contact with the environment poroperly, to adapt living in Cyprus.It’s very challenging and interesting job for me.
When my old professor knew that I was going in Cyprus he told me:”It’s chance for you to learn English, because everyone speaks English there. It’s a shame for the doctor not knowing English.” And I follow his advice.I am attending my English lessons in the Russian educational center, that belongs to the newspaper. I have attended them only two month, but I do really notice some progress.
When I have some break in my job I watch your humorous videos.Thank you very mach for your creative work!Nobody knows how much time, energy and emotions you spend doing these videos!!!
From your blog I knew that you lived for four years in China and obviously it has left a deep mark on your life.You are getting philosophical.Your phrase(“We do something nice,not because we want to give,but because we want to feel good about ourselves”) touched me deeply.
Please, don’t worry to reply to my letter.I don’t want to keep you sitting in front of the monitor still more time :)
My best regards, Irina.

wennes mota said...

Dear Misterduncun,
I am learning english now and I watch your english videos. I`d like to say that you are a brilliant man. i will read everyday what you write. You are a sensible and true man. It`s good to know that in a world full of selfish people there are men like you. I live in Brazil and I want to thank you for your excellent videos. Unfortunately, I don`t speak english well to say how much you are important....
From a brazilian boy who admire you so much,
wennes mota.

Anonymous said...

Hey Misterduncan, I'm very fond of lessons. You are the best!! May God bless you !

From Brazil, Tony.