My youngest daughter popped in after work today looking rather sad. When I asked her the problem she described herself as feeling weltschmerz. Never having heard of this before, I got her to elaborate. She told me of the alienation, the resignation and the overwhelming sense of the cruelty of the world. This is not a woman prone to melancholy, but rather one who is working hard in a well paid job at the same time as studying for a PPE with the Open University. She had lost her belief in the way the world works and her ability to do anything about it and her friends all felt the same.
The financial crisis followed by the depression have laid waste to the country. The divisive attacks on shirkers have turned people against people. The institutions that we trusted have been exposed as being built of straw. Foreign policy seems to be based on endless wars justified by lies. Vast numbers of young people cannot find work and those lucky enough to go to university are saddled with enormous debt. Politicians give a very good impression of not noticing the public, let alone listening to them. No wonder that young people do not vote.
Just as austerity is being exposed as a neoliberal lie, we should now turn our attention to the weltschmerz of the young. They, after all, are the real future of the country and we need them to reach their potential to meet the challenges of our age.
The Liberal Democrats are the only party capable of doing this. We are idealistic, we have a strong sense of right and wrong and, above all, we believe in people.
Let us renew ourselves as the party of hope. Let us invest in our young people with a decent education system and remove the burden of debt from our brightest. Let us invest in technologies where our young can work and become world leaders, such as alternative energy and nanotechnology. Let us have foreign policy based on ethics so that we can be proud to be British. Let us campaign for integrity in public life and rebuild our public institutions so that they are strong enough to face future challenges.
Let us forget the divisive War of Terror and commit ourselves to a War on Weltschmerz.
* Anthony Hawkes worked mainly in the oil industry around the world. Since retirement he has become a Human Rights Activist and joined the LibDems to start fixing the world. He blogs at Crustry Old Codger.