I found this passage striking and moving, perhaps putting its finger on the pulse of much contemporary malaise. It feels a valid and thoughtful statement though you can take issue with certain elements; such as whether pre-modern life was any better for most people, and how lucky we are now in terms of gains in health and other quality of life indicators compared to the past.
This is a marvelous book about living at a pace and with the values you believe in, resisting the modern siren songs of endless efficiency and convenience. See the quote-packed review for a taster.
I also like Rebanks for highlighting the need to believe in people more – in my former career I saw managers who had so little belief in their staff that they massively underestimated the capabilities of many of them, not only denying individuals the chance of greater fulfilment but also short-changing the organization they were supposed to be running.
‘It also made me think that modern life is rubbish for so many people. How few choices it gives them. How it lays out in front of them a future that bores most of them so much they couldn’t wait to get smashed out of their heads each weekend. How little most people are believed in, and how much it asks of so many people for so little in return.’
Source: James Rebanks, The Shepherd’s Life (London: Allen Lane, 2015), p. 96-97
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