How I despair at the nation’s current affairs

This week's news has left Bob Britnell wondering about our fixations

Three disparate topics have piqued my interest this week.

Last week I wrote about the plight of migrants trying to reach the UK and the risks they were running and this week we once again saw migrants pulled out of the Channel off the Kent coast.

Yesterday morning’s newspaper subsequently had a full page on the horrors being faced by migrants in Morocco where, it reports, Moroccan security forces are regularly abusing the migrants they are meant to be protecting. Rape and extortion would seem to be widespread.

The suggestion seems to be that once the migrants are gathered by the smugglers the Police turn up and then demand money or sex in return for turning a blind eye to the smuggling, and this is not just one report.

And where do we come into this? Well, the EU as part of its efforts to contain migrants in North Africa, helps to fund and supply the very people being accused of this abysmal treatment. 

To pay £1,200 and travel 4,000 miles to be raped within sight of Spain is a sick joke – and we’re helping fund it!

The weight of suffering

Back in May, I wrote about the problems we were building up with obesity in this country and the very real risk in a surge in type 2 Diabetes.

This week, we hear that new research – collected from GPs, not hospitals – reveals that the number of young people suffering from type 2 Diabetes is actually 10 times worse than was thought, approaching 7,000 under-25s.

This in itself is horrific especially as the first case of type 2 in a child was not recorded until the year 2000.

And yet we see no public awareness campaign like we had about smoking.

All we do is fiddle around saying to manufacturers you must cut the sugar in drinks and sweets, which they do by reducing the sizes, now it doesn’t affect me but I wonder if prices get reduced to match?

Gambling our livelihoods

And the third item of note today? The boss of an on-line gambling company gives herself a massive payout.d

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t gamble and I couldn’t care less what she is paid or indeed what anybody else is paid, not even BBC newsreaders.

But I know that much of that money has come from people with a compulsive gambling habit. I’ve known a few, a friend who always fed all his slot machine winnings back in, until he had no money left, and a poker playing colleague who was rubbish and lost daily, but still turned up at the table.

The bell tolls for thee

So what links these things, other than all being in today’s paper, well surely they tell us something about the world we live in. All these issues could be addressed by politicians and more importantly by the public, we all have some responsibility for others as well as ourselves, it was John Donne who said it:

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

It is up to all of us then, not to just stand idly by but to make our voices heard so that wrongs can be put right.

Instead, however, we get foolish campaigns to topple statues of people who made their money in unsavoury ways but spent it to do public good – or campaigns to allow people to self identify or to encourage children to identify as transgender, or campaigns to “no platform” speakers with whom the campaigners disagree!

We are becoming self-obsessed, navel gazers unwilling to face important issues, preferring to vent our frustrations by fixating on issues which, in the grand scheme of things, are quite unimportant.

As ever: I despair…


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