Charred, lifeless and brutal, the hollowed out remains of Grenfell Tower in west London screams of the human agony inflicted when, on 14th June, the building became an inferno.
Imagine a country run along truly democratic lines. In such a mythical land, what would be the role of the politician, and the nature of his or her relationship with that amorphous group paraded under the banner: ‘the people’?
After 20-plus years of being lost in the muddy centre ground of British politics, the Labour party now stands tall again as the party of social democracy, rooted in values of social justice, participation and unity. Under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is offering a positive message of hope at the coming UK election and presents a real alternative to the Conservatives.
Consistent with 21st century politics the announcement on 18th April of a general election by Prime Minister Theresa May was a cynical move based purely on self-interest. The ‘snap election’ to be held on 8th June contravenes the fixed parliament act of 2011, which introduced fixed term elections (every five years) for the first time.
It constitutes the greatest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War affecting huge numbers of people and demanding all that is best in us. Yet instead of compassion, understanding and unity, all too often intolerance, ignorance and suspicion characterise the response to the needs of refugees and migrants.
Anxiety and depression are at unprecedented levels worldwide and the numbers are growing. The World Health Organization (WHO) describe it as an epidemic, and estimate that 615 million people are suffering from one or other of these debilitating diseases. A staggering number, that in all likelihood is an indication only of the depth of the problem; anxiety as documented by the WHO, is primarily a developed nation’s issue. The 800 million living in extreme poverty in India for example are not polled, and are too overwhelmed by the daily demand for survival to even question if they feel depressed or anxious; so too the 500 million living on the margins of life in sub-Saharan Africa, or rural China.
It was the school holidays and there were lots of teenagers in my local park. I sometimes spot them meandering home, but I rarely see them en masse as it were. Blind to the bluebells, peacocks and glories of nature all around us, they were glued to their palm-sized screens. What were they so engrossed in – some kind of game or trivial video, a map of the park perhaps, unnecessary given the proliferation of signs? Are they texting, e-mailing, or trawling through the Internet, or all of the above? If one did not know what these shiny seductive objects were, one might think that they controlled the person, rather than the other way round. And to a large degree they do.
Poverty blights the lives of billions of people throughout the world: in developing countries, where it is acute, and industrialised nations, where it’s hidden but growing. It rises out of social injustice, makes exploitation and abuse inevitable, brings death and disease, robs people of opportunity and dignity, feeds anger and resentment.
A silver lining of action and fury is bubbling inside the prevailing gloom that is the election of Donald Trump.
His presidency may prove to be the final straw in the decades long assault on brotherhood, human kindness, cooperation and society inculcated during the Thatcher/Reagan era; the ultimate action that triggers an unstoppable popular uprising, uniting people in common cause against the abhorrent ideals that are causing despair and anger amongst millions of people. A global campaign, based on and calling for unity, tolerance, cooperation and social responsibility.
Throughout his Christmas message and in keeping with the hymn of the time, Pope Francis repeatedly called for Peace in our World. “Not merely the word, but a real and concrete peace” brought about by changing those attitudes, patterns of behavior and socio-economic systems that bring about conflict. Peace not simply in relationship to armed conflict, but peace for all people in a range of situations.
In the early 1900s when the idea that industrialisation could potentially result in global warming was first posited, the consensus was that it was unlikely, and in any case, an increase in temperature was to be welcomed. What possible harm could it do?
S.O.P. Save Our Planet–Worldwide Air Pollution is making us Ill
The man-made environmental catastrophe is the severest issue facing humanity. It should be the number one priority for governments, but despite repeated calls from scientists, environmental groups and concerned citizens for years, short-term policies and economic self-interest are consistently given priority over the integrity of the planet and the health of the population.
Civilization In Transition, Uncertainty and Opportunity
British filmmaker Adam Curtis recently released his new documentary ‘HyperNormalisation’. [See video below.] Brilliant in parts, this ambitious film reveals an image of a civilisation in turmoil. It shows how duplicitous, inadequate politicians have repeatedly deceived the public over the last forty years, and how their actions have caused increasing levels of chaos in the world, which they are unable to resolve. “We live in a strange time, extraordinary events keep happening that undermine the stability of our world,” the director declares, and yet, “those in control seem unable to deal with them. Nobody has any vision of a different or better kind of future.”