The Imagination Requirement

I generally get to ride off-peak – during the week, outside of the rush-hours. It’s a very nice position to be in. Most rides are like today’s: all the interactions I had with people today – horse riders, bike riders, walkers, car drivers – were at worst neutral and on occasion pleasant. I’m quite sure a contributing factor to that is that a lot of the people I’m interacting with are themselves enjoying or at least experiencing an off-peak time of it too. It makes a difference – it’s less pressured.

We are, after all, like rats: we don’t respond at all well to over-crowding.

Warning: rat poison

Not fit for rats or humans

Thirty-plus miles of varied roads (roughly speaking between Reading and Maidenhead), some half decent weather, a bike working nicely and legs turning quite well too – add it all up and all can feel OK with the world.

I’ve thought it before but it came to mind again today: as a result of this off-peak life, my world-view is going to be significantly different than, say, a cyclist who rides back and forth to work in rush-hours for five days a week and gets one ride in at the weekend with everyone else, including any number of impatient ‘leisure motorists’. (I’ll wager a reasonable sum that as a cyclist, outside of rush hour, you’re fairly sure to get more grief from drivers at the weekend than you will during the week. I guess it’s the pressure of limited leisure.)

That’s not a startling revelation, but it’s hard to remember. It’s hard to remember how subjective life is. Of course there’s commonality, but to an alarming extent everyone’s experience is unique. The best we can try to do is to remember to attempt to imagine how the lives of others might be.

That in turn set me thinking – surely, if there’s one requirement we should have of everyone who’d presume to lead us – in local government, national government or any other prescriptive role – is that they have imagination. They need the ability to imagine the lives of everyone their work and their decisions might have consequences for. The better the demonstrable imagination, the better we should think of them; the more faith we should – probably – place in them.

Perhaps it should have to be demonstrated. Perhaps the citizenry could reasonably expect those that would lead them to be willing to submit to such a requirement. It would not be beyond us to devise a system, an examination.