Saturday, 31 October 2009

Reason not to be cheerful

We all have different ways of coping with life, and we naturally choose those which fit our temperament. I like to take the hopeful view most of the time. Not because I know the best will always happen, but because it suits me better to act as if it will, while knowing it may not.

However, brain chemistry being what it is, there are days when I wake up feeling slightly less optimistic. On days like those, I should sensor my reading a little. I should not, for example read This article

or This article.

Now I know about politics being the art of the possible, and that we're all supposed to be pragmatic realists, but there are limits.

If Senator Franken's amendment is about to be dumped or diluted, are we really saying that a corporation's profit trumps someone's human rights? If we are saying this, how are we justifying it?

In terms of health care policy, are we really saying that it is in any sense OK to countenance the avoidable death of fellow human beings in the midst of conspicuous affluence? How are we justifying this?

To me, this is simply to defend the indefensible.

As for how to proceed with necessary reform, my belief in "gradualism" as the right approach was brought up short the other day when listening to a BBC program on "Scotland's Black History#". A black abolitionist spoke in Glasgow in support of the campaign to abolish slavery in the United States. The motion was that slavery should be abolished "as soon as possible", and the guest speaker announced his opposition to the motion to the consternation of the meeting. He explained that sin could not be walked away from by degrees. If it were sin, it should be renounced completely and at once. I am not myself a Christian, but his position makes a lot of sense to me. And for many of the protagonists in the current debates, his words should surely speak loudly, since they profess themselves to be Christians.

Cam we imagine Christ entering the Temple and, confronted by the money changers,saying, "Now listen guys, I know there are cost issues here for you, but I wonder if we can't sit down and discuss the medium to long term possibility of your vacating these precincts"?

I think not. Any society worth its salt has to have some clear sticking points.

Finally, I would ask the question can political systems which have allowed the power of money in a few hands to over-ride the common humanity of the electorate, any longer call themselves democracies? This is plutocracy isn't it, rendered respectable by elections giving the people choices between 2 versions of the same thing.

If someone needs access to vast amounts of money to get elected to high public office, there's the end of democracy right there.

I have cheered up since I had these thoughts, but the questions remain.