August 2011 Newsletter
Keith asks what is wrong with our priorities!
The news is full of the News of The World phone-hacking scandal. As I write, the House of Commons Media, etc Committee has still to i9nterview the Murdochs and Rebekah Brooks, she has been arrested and questioned and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has just resigned. The question most people are asking is - Who Next? What about Mr Cameron?
MotoGP motorcyclists are refusing to go to Japan for the re-scheduled race to be help there because they are frightened of the nuclear fall out.
The Church of England continues to blether endlessly (ie round in circles) about the ministry of women and Muslims are up in arms about non-Muslims in the UK being allowed to see representations of the face of Mohamed.
Meanwhile thousands are faced with starvation in the horn of Africa and we write our cheques for the Disasters Emergency Committee and wait for it all to happen again in a few years time.
What is wrong with our sense of priorities? Surely the message of all the big religions and of all respectable secular societies and communities is that we should live our lives well and look after each other? If we do that, if there is an eternity of salvation ahead of us, then there is little more we can do to earn it.
The NotW journalists did some horrible things. Someone in charge of them effectively authorised it, turned a blind eye to it or failed to manage the perpetrators properly. They maybe criminals, they may just be incompetent. They should get their come-uppance and let's put it to bed. I really don't see why the Prime Minister would be party to any of it, even if he was guilty of being a friend of those who were or may have been. Surely the Opposition have more important and valuable things to do than to stalk him on this.
As I write, there has not been one fatality arising from the nuclear 'disaster' in Japan. Damage has been done, there is radio-active poisoning to some degree of land and sea. But how amazing! This was an old, in poor condityion facility, admittedly (now) badly managed and maintained - and when disaster struck, what a limited consequence. The more modern facility a few m iles down the road has quietly continued to go about its business. How any of this justifies the Germans in planning to cut out the whole of their nuclear industry baffles me. How the motorcyclists see their presence in Japan as being particularly risky (except from those endemic in their sport) I don't know.
As for the C of E, it's at times like these, that one wonders if the Non-Conformists may not have got it right and limited the authority, powers and influence of their ordained ministers.
What about Africa? I see in the papers and on TV and hear on the Radio little or no discussion of the fundamental problems that are causing these regular disasters (and these ARE disasters). The only explanation I have heard is that population is rising too fast.
But the fundamental, most important reason, which no one dares to say out loud, because we are all ashamed of our colonial past, is that administration by Africans is almost universally terrible. The secondary reason is that vicious arms (not the least being the Kalashnikov) are too easy and cheap to acquire - so that small bands of criminals (whether masquerading as Government troops or not) can intimidate and, if necessary or even just for fun, wipe out whole communities. We get upset because of the pirates operating from Ethiopia and Somalia - but other do far worse to their own people.
The initial Christian response to this sort of thing is to pray. That's fine and it's right. But it is not sufficient. We have to do something. Raising money is a good thing to do - many sm all contributions do really add up to something. But in the end, we have to make decisions about how to change the circumstances that cause the problem. We can do little about the droughts, but we can find ways to improve the administration of the countries that keep getting wiped out by them. Maybe the UN has to take over countries which are always in need of aid and set up effective administrations. I know the UN can never make decisions like that, let alone implement them. In that case, smaller groups of right thinking countries need to get together to do it. We have little problem putting armies together to fight in countries harbouring 'terrorists' - why not armies of civil servants and ecologists and agronomists to get the people - the real people - of Somalia, Ethiopia and so on back on their feet and able to live with a little dignity.
The real reason is that we are so committed to preserving our own nationhood that we are conditioned to thi9nk it impossible to trample on the so called nationhood of countries we, as colonialist, created then ran away from and left under the government of bandits. The people of these countries want some dignity and food and water before they can afford to concern themselves with self-determination, whatever that may mean.