Monday, December 13, 2021

Under pressure


I’m not a fan of F1—and I’m not interested in getting into a debate with those who are—but I heard a brilliant analysis of yesterday’s controversial end to this year’s championship, by David Croft, lead commentator for Sky. His view was that, under incredible pressure—not simply the pressure of the title race, but the burden of having kept the show on the road all season under pandemic conditions—race director Michael Masi made the wrong call. But, rather than vilify him, we should recognise that the burden is unacceptable; that this must not happen again, for Masi’s sake as well as for the sport; that the owners of F1, who make a lot of money from it, should provide Masi with a deputy to work alongside him. Croft also noted that Verstappen is a worthy champion, but that he should not have won in the way that he did—that was unfair on him as well as on Hamilton—and that the gracious magnanimity of Hamilton in congratulating Verstappen should silence his own critics—he, too, is a worthy champion of champions.

As I say, I am not a fan of F1. But I found Croft’s analysis incredibly important. Everyone who is working is working under a massive additional burden, under pressure to deliver business as usual in circumstances that are far from usual. At every level and in every sector, we are stretched to the very limit—sitting ducks on worn tyres, if you will—and under such conditions, extended over time, errors of judgement are inevitable. Some of which will have greater consequences than others.

We need to extend grace towards one another. Far more than we do. And the grumpier we all get, living with the pandemic, the more we need this.

We need to consider scaling down what we expect, at present—what we can deliver, and what we demand from others. We aren’t past this, or anywhere near past this.

And we need to have serious conversations about investment. In a society where the only value is money—where what is ‘good’ is profit (and wealth indicates virtue) and what is ‘evil’ is any constraint on profit (and not possessing more money than you can ever spend is seen as vice) and where all other values have been hollowed-out—we need to reconsider wellbeing in terms of the common good. What does it profit us if we grasp material riches, but forfeit our soul?


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