I write a lot about things you ought to do to become a great artist and I believe in those things sincerely. As we all know, it’s incredibly difficult to live by your own principles. We all have a tendency to backslide. We often set ourselves impossibly high standards that are hard to reach. That’s the point, though. If you can overcome the obstacles and temptations to give up your principles, you feel very good about it. Nothing feels quite as good as successfully adhering to that which you espouse. Few things feel worse than compromising your principles.
I was therefore saddened to hear, this morning, that the Church of England, who initially supported the Occupy protesters in London, today decided that closing Saint Paul’s Cathedral to tourists had become too much of a problem to them and that the protesters should be moved on. Evidently it has become a bigger problem than reforming industrial scale greed in our society. If ever there was an organisation that espoused and promoted moral principles, surely the Church of England would rank among the highest. So much greater their hypocrisy, then, when they cave in to whatever police or political pressure is brought to bear upon them and they abandon their support of the meek, the poor, the peaceful, the masses, the disadvantaged and those treated unjustly in the world, in favour of the powerful and privileged, the tyrannical and the elite.
In abandoning their support of the Occupy protesters, the Church of England has cast itself as the problem in the minds of many people. They have tacitly sided with the oppressors. If their decision to do so was in order to keep the doors of Saint Paul’s Cathedral open to tourists, by their actions they have guaranteed a further desertion of the church in congregations all over the world. The doors of the cathedral will close, but not necessarily from tourists. The doors will close because those that believed in the church will no longer attend. The church, in siding with wealth, has alienated itself from the ninety nine percent. Permanently. It’s not something they can say sorry for later.
Simon Cowell is currently fretting about the loss of interest in his flagship X-factor programme. Compare and contrast what happens on X-factor with the spirit of the Occupy protests. X-factor is about brutal judgement of people with dreams, crushing them with the withering criticisms of elite people that have “made it” in the industry. Occupy is about collaboration for a greater dream than self-realisation, with strictly peaceful, collegiate organisation and love and encouragement for all. X-factor is the public spectacle of breaking hearts. Occupy is about restoring hope.
In contrast to the Church of England, Simon Cowell, I believe, does live by his principles. He sincerely believes that a brutal process of demolishing those not quite at the required aesthetic standard (his own aesthetic tastes being the only ones that matter) is the only way to make bags of money in the entertainment industry. That may be so. I don’t know. It’s just that people now believe there is something more important that we all need to do than make bags of money in the entertainment industry. What Simon Cowell lacks is a higher purpose in tune with the Zeitgeist. He has become yesterday’s man. The agenda has moved on.
So living by your principles is important, but so is having good principles. Living by shabby, trivial principles doesn’t cut it. This is a lesson that Simon and the Church will both have to learn.