Plastic Bottles and the Kaiser – a plea #1000speak @1000speak


I’ve often wondered at the way the world is set up and the conflicts inherent in it. History, power, colonialism, they have all had a part to play in the dominance of nations and nation states in the current construct. Stemming from the idea of the balance of power following the gradual collapse of the empires that dominated Europe before the eighteenth century and formally embodied in the concept of the United Nations post WW2, we live in a world where control is dictated by and between Nations. And what we see is how power is everything, and when it is out of balance, we see bullying.

Sometimes there is a breaking down of the barrier put up by nations – in the EU for instance – but the more some barriers shrink the greater the call for a new set of powers and controls, just with a wider set of boundaries. You can look at, say, the collapse of Yugoslavia or, more recently, the absorption of Crimea into Russia and see what happens when one piece of land, one group of people want to distance themselves from another group and either float free or attach themselves to another piece or group – and the violence and conflict that then ensues.

And then again, we see and hear tales of violence and hurt levelled at one group by another but about which no one can do anything for fear of ‘interfering in the internal affairs of a nation’.  And even when, sometimes, something is done to address a level of egregious behaviour the consequences can be dire – the dismantling of Iraq and the rise of IS comes to mind.

This is bullying on a  international scale. This is bullying of vast numbers of people and about which we stand by, powerless to intervene. It may be carried out by those we believe corrupt and evil, or by those who we naturally assume are democratic and caring. Those who saw globalisation as a new dawn, a future where a common standard would be accepted, or maybe imposed, when some supranational body might take on the role of the World’s policeman – they have been sorely tried and tested and found short of ideas. The UN was never fit for that purpose – arguably never fit for any purpose. There have been some successes in chasing out the exploitative but for every Tunisia there is a Libya – any successes are often fragile and few and far between. Still better something than nothing.

As an individual it is possible to look on and despair at the narrow view expressed by the world’s political leaders – who necessarily reflect the thinking of their peoples. Those destined to keep or lose power at the ballot box cannot spend precious hours on ‘bigger pictures’ when there’s enough at home to keep them engaged. Why would anyone worry about a small group of beleaguered people many miles away and over whom one never has any control? Politic is the art of the possible after all.

But globalisation has done one big thing; it has shown us the damage caused in other nations, in other parts of the world. Moreover, it has shown us how our indifferent bullying of our own planet has created a potential time bomb that, while perhaps miles away is capable of exploding on all of us. We know of the danger so climate change even if we fail yet to know, and can still argue about, what the consequences will be. Somewhere, in the depths of the Pacific Ocean, a land of plastic floats together, grinding itself into a granular  soup of unnatural polymers. This is our fault, all of us who use plastic. The sea population is gradually being infested with the residues that are a necessary spin off from this churning gurning world.  And one day that will come back to haunt us. But will anyone do anything about it? Is there anyone with the time, energy, money and capacity to care? While the world is dominated by nations and nations states the clear answer is no.

On the 27th January 1859 Frederick Wilhelm Victor Albert of Prussia was born. He was destined for greatness, the grandson of  Queen Victoria, the second in line to the German Empire. But he suffered at birth and that suffering led to an unhappy  childhood. By all accounts he blamed his mother and, by extension, the British. For many such an antipathy would mean nothing but for a man who would lead such a powerful group that was never going to be the case.

If you read about Wilhelm’s young life he was clearly bullied in ways unlikely to be tolerated today. He was, despite a severely withered arm forced to learn to ride. It appears to have been a cruel lonely youth. It clearly traumatised him and led to certain personality traits developing. This young man would eventually lead his nation into a bloody conflict that killed millions and shaped the world of the twentieth century.

Am I making too big a link between the self-centric world that crystallised post WW1 with, first, the League of Nations and then the UN as a supra national body reinforcing the dominance of the nation state and some cruel behaviour inflicted on a young man that was probably pretty common in the nineteenth century? Perhaps. Probably. The point is though that thoughtless behaviour, bullying behaviour especially directed at the young can have long term devastating consequences on not just the individual bullied but on a wider group that the individual concerned. And when those consequences impact not just at a domestic level, as bad as that is, the results may be truly horrific.

But it doesn’t have to be thus. It doesn’t have to always end badly. In this group – 1000 Voices of Compassion – we have a tentative network of like minded people who circle the globe. Today we are looking to Build from Bullying and most of the focus will, rightly and understandably be on the individuals who suffer.

But within that, please, let us not forget the group, the corporate, the national, the international bullying that is all around us and, often, conducted in our names. We are one of many groups. And we know one thing. Things that, in years past, would remain hidden are now exposed to the harsh cold light of the web’s all seeing eye. It may be the case – given recent history of random and thoughtless interventions it is probably right – that no one nation or group can dictate behaviour to other nations. But as individuals, as small groups we have an eye and a voice. We are the drip of soothing rain on the stony harsh granite of unyielding power;  slowly but insidiously and inevitably our voices aggregate to wear away resistance.

It takes time. Sadly. The flap of the butterfly’s wing is a fragile beat, easily defeated. But butterflies keep beating and eventually the result is a zephyr of hope.

The biggest bullies in all this are ourselves; we indifferent many who stand by and watch. Since Homo Sapiens became the dominant species on this little lump of rock, we have bullied our environment and each other. But bullies thrive in the dark corners, in the secret places. Shine a torch light on them and they begin to whither. In this new century we have that torch: the web. We, the engaged, are the batteries that power it, we are the hands that direct the beam. Others would seek to control that tool – after all it is free to use and there as many minds seeking a twisted construct as seek good outcomes. But do not be seduced by voices saying we need to control it. Do not let the misuses limit it effectiveness. To do so would set the clock on hope back decades.

When the London Olympics opened, Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, sat at a computer and typed.

All round the stadium the message ran:


and I say



Really this is for everyone..

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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23 Responses to Plastic Bottles and the Kaiser – a plea #1000speak @1000speak

  1. willowdot21 says:

    You have me humbled!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. willowdot21 says:

    I think this song shows what you mean esp the video look in the these real peoples eyes!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Rachel M says:

    Bullying is one of the more despicable of human behaviours. I’m reading Roald Dahl’s Danny the Champion of the world to my daughter at the moment and there’s a bit in it where Danny is threatened by the rich, powerful, and obnoxious Victor Hazel. Danny’s father races to his side when he sees it and tells Victor Hazel to pick on someone his own size next time, like himself. The book was written in 1975 but the same thing still happens today: the powerful picking on the weak. And, as you say, it’s not just other humans who get bullied, it’s also other animals and the environment.

    Liked by 2 people


  5. Annecdotist says:

    The two sides of the Internet – I think something so generously given has to be a force for good. I don’t think I understood what a gift it was until I saw that bit at the Olympics. Though lots of people have made money on the back of the invention, the basic technology has been freely shared. If only other inventors – right now I’m looking at YOU, drug companies, who are debating how much to charge the NHS for meningitis medicine that could prevent children from suffering multiple amputations, that’s if they didn’t die – could do likewise.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. yvonne says:

    Wow, Geoff, I love the angle you took here. Such a thoughtful piece, and your point about the internet being the light that shines on bullying and can make it wither is wonderful.
    From what I’ve read, your point about Frederick Wilhelm Victor Albert of Prussia could probably also be applied to Hitler, and it’s my guess that most tyrannical behaviour has its roots in abusive childhoods. There’s a post in the link-up called Victims Make More Victims (Number 120) that says the same thing, but from a totally different angle. I recommend it if you haven’t already read it!
    I also really, really like your point: “the world’s political leaders – who necessarily reflect the thinking of their peoples.” I had lunch with a friend at the weekend, and we were talking about this same thing, and about how as a whole we treat our politicians very badly, attacking them personally. This creates an atmosphere of defensiveness and doesn’t nurture wise decision making. We complain about politicians, but they do absolutely reflect the thinking of their peoples and we will keep getting politicians who reflect bullying, defensiveness and so on until we collectively let go of those behaviours. I read in an article today about a canvasser for Labour who had met someone raging about homeless shelters, but this person, who was low-paid thought that people who were on benefits should be put into homeless shelters, instead of using up his taxes. The writer thought that reactions like that were what caused Rachel Reeves to feel it necessary to say that Labour was not the part of just those on benefits. So politicians contort themselves to try to appeal to all voters and of course, that’s not possible.
    Here’s to shining lights into dark places!

    Liked by 2 people

    • TanGental says:

      I haven’t seen 120 – I read on Sunday, before that went up I think – but wil take a look. Hitler. Yes I think without checking that is the case. It certainly seems so. And with thugs justifying chasing Farage from a family meal because they don’t like his policies and some anti trackers graffiti- ing the Tory candidate car in Bristol because her party doesn’t support a ban- is it a wonder all they do is slate each other? I don’t like the party or the policy and protest is to be complimented but not this way. Thanks for the thoughtful comment Yvonne.


  7. herheadache says:

    Reblogged this on Her Headache and commented:
    #1000Speak does matter. Well said here.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Charli Mills says:

    You have me excited to be a battery! What an intelligent post, Geoff. That you decided to write is the best thing that could have happened next to the invention of the world wide web. You have the ability to find the plot and show it to the rest of us. With you, with #1000Speak, we are powering up our voices and shining light into the dark corners.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. lorilschafer says:

    Reblogged this on Lori Schafer's Short Subjects I Feel Like Writing About and commented:
    I was even-more-than-usually-impressed by this post by Geoff Le Pard for this month’s #1000Speak project. Geoff’s incisive analysis of bullying on international as well as individual levels will make you re-think the very basis of bullying – and what we can do to stop it.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Norah says:

    Awesome, awesome post Geoff! Let’s all be brilliant and light up the world with hope!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. That last paragraph is brilliant. Love it. Beautiful post on this topic.

    Liked by 1 person

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