In praise of squishiness

Nuff said. Photo by Rebecca Campbell on Unsplash

Much better than the rigid

Squishiness is little regarded as a value. This is wrong. Consider a stiff, rigid society. Usually it will be poisonous for women. So, one slip, girl, one wrong path, for you, or, forsooth, for your sister, hah, and you are ‘ruined’. Jane Austen’s novels would themselves be ruined in a squishy world; so would Thomas Hardy’s. Nor are things overly squishy in the north-western tribal parts of Pakistan, nor rural Iraq, for example. I’ve heard it said that the old Northern Ireland was similarly lacking in flex, squishiness enrigidised by too much ‘community’ nosing into everything and policing everyone.

We are a society who equates ‘squishiness’ with progress and I think that is good.

Think about it. Crime and punishment should be squishy: don’t execute people, you might just find you’ve electrocuted the wrong person, or for the wrong reason. Education should be squishy: eventually, O difficult child, perhaps the penny will drop in your life. Public life should be squishy, with latitude for lapses because we all lapse.

And yet non-squishiness keeps rearing its foul head. Social media is 21st century censoriousness re-introduced. Liberal thinkers seem to step on other liberal thinkers (who think differently liberal thoughts) with what seems to me something like a jackboot. Vigilante climate protesters hold out no prospect of forgiveness for those who emit too much methane after a fine curry.

Squishiness, on the other hand, gives space for us to make lots of wrong choices, lots of verbal slips, lots of frankly entirely wrong and harmful thinking, and yet crash through the woodlands and find the path home relatively unscathed. Oh for a squishy society! Oh for squishiness everywhere, where it is understood, ‘blessed are the merciful, because they will receive mercy.’

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