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.”
There can be little doubt that we are living through an extraordinary, and in many ways unprecedented era. Times of uncertainty and tremendous upheaval for sure, but also positive times, in which large numbers of people are becoming energised and politically engaged. Political parties in many countries are fracturing, as internal differences surface and the old dualities of left and right fail to respond to the needs and demands of the people.
Ethiopia is regularly cited as an African success story by donor nations; the economy is growing they cry, more children are attending school and health care is improving. Well GDP figures and millennium development statistics reveal only a tiny fraction of the corrupt and violent picture.
Over and above the greed and corruption of wealthy and powerful individuals, the leaked ‘Panama Papers’ revealed the need for a worldwide, standardised tax code, as part of a radical new global economic model. Not globalisation – which is ideologically based, designed by the ruling elite and set up to serve the interests of national and multi-national corporations and banks, but a new and just system designed to meet the needs of everyone, with sharing and social justice at its heart.
Depending on who you listen to and how it is defined, worldwide income and wealth inequality is either more acute than it has ever been, or the gap between the rich and the rest is narrowing. The numbers may be distorted by conflicting statistics but what is indisputable is the shadow of extreme poverty that billions are living under, the economic induced anxiety millions more face every day, and the fact that the rich continue to get richer. Of the 7.2 billion people in the world, around half are living on less than $2.00 a day ̶ that’s the official barrier to the land of poverty set by the World Bank. Most of these people are to be found in the slums or villages of India, China, and the shantytowns and rural settlements of Sub-Saharan Africa, where 48% of the population live on less than $1.25 a day. [World Bank 2010]
Along with the choking fumes and piles of putrid waste, sound systems and a constant bombardment of honking horns from cars, lorries and screaming buses assault residents and the unprepared in towns and cities throughout India. Loudspeakers are used to spread political propaganda; celebrate and circulate expensive arranged and prolonged weddings; and, mounted outside temples and mosques, loudly proclaim the jargon of the just and the righteous path to salvation. Continue reading
A suffocating patriarchal shadow hangs over the lives of women throughout India. From all sections, castes and classes of society, women are victim of its repressive, controlling effects. Those subjected to the heaviest burden of discrimination are from the Dalit or Scheduled Castes, known in less liberal democratic times as the ’untouchables’. The name may have been banned but pervasive negative attitudes of mind remain, as do the extreme levels of abuse and servitude experienced by Dalit women. They experience multiple levels of discrimination and exploitation, much of which is barbaric, degrading, appallingly violent, and totally inhumane.