A Land of Lost Contentment

I was listening to an interview, with a woman in her early sixties perhaps, who dwells in Merthyr Tydfil, a largish town in the famous South Wales Valleys; situated at the head of a valley; and served by a main highway known here locally as The Heads of The Valleys Road.

The interview was broadcast on BBC Wales televison; but first I want to offer you some background to Merthyr Tydfil, The Valleys, and their history; which will be all very germane to my continuing story.

The South Wales Valleys is one of those parts of the world distignuished by being a place where in the late 18th early 19th century what was to become known as The Industrial Revolution took root and took off.

In these valleys there was to be found to be mined coal and iron ore – in vast amounts. Over a course of say fifty years, from 1800 to 1850 these ‘green and pleasant lands’ in Wales transformed into what some slightly horrified commentators would use diabolical imagery to try to express.

Mining for coal and iron ore overtook everyone and everywhere hereabouts, so that by 1850 there were fires burning 24/7 and lighting up the night skies in huge high flames as ore was being smelted; and the coal and its slack covered the land in blackness and dirt. Huge manmade fissures and clefts and scars and lacerations had been made into mountainside after mountainside and the spoils removed and the wastes left strewn across the land.

The landscape indeed looked diabolic and Pandemonium itself rang not so loud into the nights and days with iron being wrought and worked and coal being hewn and loaded.

In these days it was the landowners who enjoyed most of the benefits of the wealth generated from this incessant infernal activity. One such landowner, local to where I now dwell was The Morgan Family; of whose ancestry came the infamous Captain Morgan of rum and piracy. The Morgans charged the locomotive companies hauling coal in interminable strings of trucks across Morgan land just one British penny per ton; and soon, with perhaps in excess of 250 million tons of coal crossing their lands every year for over a century, The Morgans were living in a stately home (still standing and where are tours of the house given yet from the UK National Trust by which one is able to see the Morgans still in all their past glories) and the Morgans had soon accquired vast parklands and estates. Theirs it was to live in style; whilst the miner and the smelter workmen came home after 12 hour shifts to a meal of staple items like potatoes, and bread products, little meat, little variation.

(It is said reliably in histories of this time that the Irish navvies who built the railroads of the UK in these years had on occasion fled Ireland because of a spate of famines in that land. The worst of these famines, those of the 1840s were said to be so severe that there were grown young Irish men and women who had been raised by their parents on little more than a potato diet. These young people had often grown up malformed and sickly and of stunted growth)

The miner and the iron worker were sometimes, not infrequently, paid not in coin of the realm but in tokens issued by an employer as pay to them; and these tokens were redeemable only at shops provided by the same employer. These shops were sometimes known as Tommy Shops. Abuse of their labour in this way was rife where this setup for miners prevailed.

Thus at the time of the outbreak of the First World War, the working people of Britain as a whole, and many of these were from the Welsh Valleys, who volunteered to fight in France were found to the tune of about 20 or 30 percent of them to be unfit for the frontline because malnourished or deformed or suffering from congenitial and deprivation-related illnesses. This is the actual history; the price our working ancestors paid for the life we have today. Our lives here and now today are largely lacking in certain essentials today; which lack is the subject of this article; but materially and physical-health-wise we are a kings and queens in comparison to our forefathers and mothers.

Miners and iron workers in The Valleys naturally and almost of a course formed tight knit and rock-solid communities of bonds and solidarities which unified them and thus aided their survival and enhanced their abilities to make ends meet. These communities became world famous in their heydays; and sentimental movies and songs were recorded and played on the daily lives of their peoples. In some of these Valley areas a Communist Party candidate was returned to the UK Parliament regularly during the 1920s and 1930s. The Valleys politics were always far left. Their close communities had proven to them that co-operation and unity were the ways which worked for them.

All this Valleys way of life more or less halted overnight during the 1980s. For years coal had been dwindling in its importance as the backbone of British industry; and oil had replaced much, most of coal’s work and value. Iron and steel too were beginning to be made far more cheaply in India and in China. The Valleys were in business still but their necessity to the nation, and to the world, was failing evermore year on year.

I won’t go into the bitter politics of it but in 1984 a National Miners Strike was called by the nation’s miners; in response to a decision by the UK government of the day to close more or less all the coal pits in Britain.

(I need to add here something I have inadvertently omitted which you need to know. The Coal Industry and the Steel Industry of Great Britain since the early years after the First World War had been in the ownership, technically, of the British people; but in fact but owned, run and managed from day to day by successive UK governments. Thus we said in those days that Iron and Coal were ‘Nationalised Industries’. Hence the government had power to kill off these industries; as they succeeded in doing)

After nearly a year long strike, which took the UK government to the very brink of collapse and the nation to the very brink of a workers’ revolution; more by good luck than by design the government won out and the miners caved. There had been seen on TV during this year massed police in pitch battles with striking miners. The nation was divided between the secure and the insecure the haves and have-nots. I have heard on national media a claim stated and corroborated that certain individuals and some of these high up in the UK’s armed forces at this time, were putting in place contingency plans to stage a military coup here were the miners to have been able to have claimed the victory.

To use another politician’s phrase ‘at a stroke’ the mines died; the miners became unemployed; the pits got shut down and were allowed to flood and their maintenance way left to deteriorate; so that the likelihood of them ever being able to be opened up again for working is extremely low. They never have been.

This sudden closure of the mines meant that ‘at a stroke’ the miners communities were also destroyed economically; and thus the South Wales Valleys became no longer an inferno of diabolical sights and sounds happening all day and night; they were now destitute and demoralised and the history of coalmining here was over.

The 1980s were lean years for many British working people; for the working people of South Wales they were some of the leanest. Their communities lost over time gradually their strong bonds and co-operative social unities; and they have been left to live with the grossly unsightly messes of slagheaps, of mountainsides of scars and black dirts, dug out holes, and rusting redundant haulage, plant, and pit machineries. Like a bad hangover the communities suffered utter loss and humiliation.

Since that demise and over a course of nearly forty years since; The Valleys have recovered in a limited degree. The consumer economy has brought shopping and service facilities into these areas, the very same type of economy which drives the engines of Britain across this nation today. The Valleys’ infernal wilderness has been exchanged for a commercial wilderness; where life is samey and diversified only by a change of local shopping venue for inhabitants from time to time.

This then is the backdrop to the woman in her late sixties who was interviewed at Merthyr and seen on TV a few days ago.

Now far from the Welsh Valleys having voted for Britain to remain in the European Union; I say far from because these Welsh Valleys owed much of their economic regeneration – such as it is – after the pits closed – to EU funding and projects which helped deprived Member communities. Instead of a vote to remain in the EU the people of The Valleys almost across the board voted for Britain to leave the European Union. It is well established that the question in people’s minds here in The Valleys, as was the case across Britain generally, was not stay in or come out of the EU; but first and foremost: ‘How else can we stop immigrants coming into Britain?’

The Referendum offered to our people ostensibly on a basis of whether we should stay in or leave the European Union was won by those politicians who would leave the Union simply because the voters of the UK, a majority, saw a NO vote to be an answer to their supposed problem of ‘too many immigrants’ coming to Britain.

Now I have written elsewhere how our people were fed this line and approach – to see the Referendum question solely in terms of the immigration question – by their leaders; as it were encouraged by politicians to see that a NO vote would be a curb immigration. The politicians wanted different ends to the ordinary people; they wanted to stage a ‘silent coup’ or rather, as they phrased it ‘to reclaim back our nationhood’. In fact it was a power grab they wanted – sheer raw power – and they could not brook the fact that persons in Brussels – in another country – were trumping their domestic wishes and rules and laws and ideas.

Like the persons who voted against immigration, these politicians too held a close-to-racist premise according to which they cast their votes to leave the EU. Dislike of foreigners basically.

Now this woman in Merthyr – she had voted to leave the EU – and she lives in an area of Wales which in reality has received very few, scarcely any, immigrants from other nations. Yet her sole and prime reason for voting to leave she openly confessed was to stop immigrants coming into Britain. (This is a commonplace phenomenon here; that persons/regions least in contact with ‘foreigners’ voted to turf them out, and bear the most prejudice)

Her tesimony went something like this; I hope I have the main points here;

I voted for us to leave because of the immigrants. I know it sounds racist but I hope I’m not a racist? There’s too many of them. I want our country for the British, even though many called British are now allsorts. I want to go back to a time when Britain was British – even though perhaps it never was like that – even though I know I can’t go back – that that is all gone forever. I just don’t feel at home anymore.’

That is basically it, as far as I can recall, to reproduce what her drift was.

It struck me that this outlook of hers and the arguments she uses and the qualifications she makes are pretty commonplace ones; are a set of feelings felt by many many people who voted NO and so for us to leave the EU, and who have spoken out about their motives in the press and media. Overwhelmingly so, the working people of the UK, especially those of lower social standing and of moderate education and of lesser privilege shared, continue to share, this mindset of views.

Because it is a commonplace set, I do not mean to deride it or make light of it. In fact I want to look at it as a package deal and attempt to unearth what is as far as I can see actually behind such an outlook?

(In a fortnightly magazine my wife takes which castigates and ridicules the follies of our times and of our rulers, there was recently a cartoon joke. An old lady is at a rail station ticket kiosk. Handing over her money she asks the ticket person: ‘I’d like a return to simpler times, please?’. This joke has some bearing on where I am heading to)

Over half the population of Britain is above 60 years of age. Most of this half, – 90 plus percent – are retired from work and living on pensions and other assets they have accumulated. The Merthyr lady no doubt was one such.

In Britain there is a massive commercial industry based solely upon nostalgia. There are day after day new products and new services being added, being offered in this vein to supply and to fuel a desire for ‘a return to simpler times’. We have it seems as many tribute music bands making good livings offering secondhand nostalgia trips; as there are young person’s bands and artistes and celebrities around.

We also have television channels which offer persons of some age means to relive their past years through old movies, old newsreels, histories, and through consciously retro style shows and performances. We have here advertised frequently, collections – always on disk – always a ‘box set’ – of songs and movies popular in the 1950s, 1960s 1970s – always pitched at grandma and grandad – for them to lose themselves – to get away from the present – in a haze of yesterdays.

Besides this there is a great industry in older person’s dating and social clubs, on and offline, there are the ubiquitous sea cruises and elderly-person’s specialised holidays; and a great number of other niche ventures for ‘seniors’ which together make up a considerable discrete part of the UK national economy.

It is in large part accepted and acceptable here that when a British person reaches a certain age, s/he should jettison life in the present, at least in part, sometimes utterly, and prefer legitimately to relive at secondhand a past part of their lives. This outlook is encouraged, socially and commercially (it is difficult to separate these two aspects in our nation); and enjoyed; and widespread.

Now I myself am now 67. I have felt also like many of my age that ‘the times they are a changing’ to a point that I seem to have ‘lived to long’ and so I seem sometimes to be ‘exiting’ the world slowly by way of a perceived redundancy of usefulness and a lack of general public interest in me. One gets sidelined very quickly here once one gets older.

The Welshman Dylan Thomas springs to mind here. He wrote as one of his more famous pieces a verse titled ‘Do not go gently into that goodnight’ – which title I think explains itself in our context here right now. I do believe provision is being made by commerce, by government, by social life as a whole here, for many of us elderly to ‘go gently into that goodnight’ as comfortably and as prematurely as the market will bear.

How many ‘oldie’ movies are coming out in these latter years. Those ‘On Golden Ponds’ and ‘The Bucket List’ and ‘RED’ and ‘Driving Miss Daisys’ and so forth. Yes, age is a time for recapitulation; for a reassessment and a making atonement and provision; but no-one has the right to ‘give up on’ life and ‘like a crab I go backwards’. Life as adventure still rules. Not as an exploration, part of the general economically-driven, depredation of the planet; scudding here and there and absorbing everything, collecting views and thrills and ‘experiences’ as part of one’s happy-shopper consumerist consumption; to the Far East; South America; Antarctica; etc before the night falls in which no man or woman can tour.

The great philosopher Alfred North Whitehead wrote a famous popular book he titled ‘Adventures of Ideas’ – the word ‘adventures’ being ambiguous here – meaning both ‘adventuring into ideas’ and ‘putting forth suggestions of ideas’.

If/when we give up such a burning passion to keep going forwards, of course guided by the light of our pasts, but yet pressing on, attempting to make whatever we chose as our personal passion for life to be ever more of a reality in the world; from the humble carpenter to the highbrow physicist or the impassioned composer, to the man who collects matchbox labels and the woman who studies archaeology; whatever it is which we chose, we go ever forward never resting on laurels or calling it a day. For what we chose is, has become, whom we are; it is one’s character. Indeed ‘Do not go gently into that goodnight’.

The lady from Merthyr knew she was ‘living a dream’ – she admitted at least twice in her confessional that she knew her vision for the future of Britain was based on a wistful reverie of sunny, imaginary yesterdays – which never were and never can be – yet she voted on their strength in her silly heart. A protest? A surrender? A loss of distinction between fact and fiction? A throwaway whimsical wish? All of these and all done at least half-consciously. What does this say to us – about her and about that 50% of Britain who nearly all I fear are in much the same nevernever land of fantasies?

It says that their hardheadedness is melted and gone; and alas they do not care that it has gone. The younger British have sidelined the Merthyr woman and her like, she is allowing herself to be ‘on the way out’ gently, and is almost serenely acceptant of the fact; so she seems to have believed her vote was of no moment, of no power – but not in the real world – but in the world she is making for herself in her head. “It just doesn’t matter, I’m only on the sidelines.”

This is the triumph of daydream over hope – and over going forwards, for hope is only possible to retain by going forwards; a retreat is a surrender of hope to something nebulous like destiny, fate, whatever.

And what is one able to do with such a people of this mind? They are no longer amenable to reasoned argument; not prepared any longer to face the fact of the world as it presently is; and to act in it as the marriage service has it – ‘for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, from this day forth…’.

There’s an old saying; ‘You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’, and this is our situation of today -it is certainly no Golden Age. Yet rather than retreat from its brashness and helterskelter mad rush and grab; its sterile marketing and loathsome terms and conditions, reservations, qualifications, impositions and derelictions; instead of conceding a defeat and a failure; stay with it and believe – that Truth will conquer at the last – but not by means f constraints, or by oppressions, not by violence and aggression, nor in any way but in The Way of Love; so that the battle is ever for recovery of that Land of Lost Contentment; but not as pure myth and reverie, nor as daydream or as a wistful deliberate self-deception; but by means of one’s outward actions in due regard towards the next person, whomsoever that next person might be, a person for whom one is able, one is privileged, to serve and care for in God’s Name.

Nationalism Not Racism? Globalism not Capital Hegemony?

These questions to my mind answer themselves by way of their antitheses; but let’s look a little at why for me they answer themselves by a negation of assumptions they question.

Let’s first dispel the glose of camouflage placed over either Globalism or Nationalism, whichever item you favour, by the press and by public media; by governments, by all mainstream public commentators. This camouflage acts to hide attitudes and positions which in truth are pretty sordid and it does so by means of calling spades other than spades, and by way of a legerdemain with language worthy of Room 101.

(Room 101 is the numbered office in which the absolutist dictator Big Brother is finally revealed to reside in the novel of political scepticism and despair ‘1984’ by George Orwell)

One of Orwell’s three Public Ministries of government in 1984 was named ‘MiniTruth’ – the other two were called ‘MiniLove’ and ‘MiniPeace’. Each title of the three Ministries represents an utter misnomer; a deliberate set of euphemisms for the real business they carry out. MiniTruth disseminates ubiquitous propaganda; MiniLove acts to keep citizens in a micromanaged thraldom; MiniPeace wages constant war by policy on the other continental geopolitical blocs (Eurasia, Eastasia and Oceana) into which the world of 1894 is divided up.

Orwell was perhaps one of the very the first of the writers of late industrial times (1920 to 1950 he was active) who made a great point of moment about the intimate profound connection between manipulation of language and misuse of political power. This connection in all its depravity is to be seen unpacked and analysed in others’ later political works of literary standing such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s ‘Cancer Ward’ and his ‘The Gulag Archipelago’, and less illustriously perhaps it is seen discussed in Anthony Burgess’ novel A Clockwork Orange.’ Spy thriller writers of some standing like John Le Carre almost by default make hay with the way language is used to disguise what is really going on in its use by secretive or oppressive governing organisations.

But make no mistake, the large worldwide business interests are likewise very much so culprits in the same manner, and to the same extent as are the public bodies and government offices.

Worldwide business itself is no less political and ideologically-driven than are tyrannical governments. It also misuses language to make its inroads upon us everyday Mr and Mrs Bloggses.

Think of the language and ambience of all that advertising it does; which might be described fairly as being a deliberate conscious and crafted attempt to play upon ordinary persons’ human feelings and desires so as to persuade them to buy; and with a certain amount of cynicism to use whatever emotive leverage regulators will allow for it to gain sales. But there is much more about international business to be said than just about its advertising model.

This then is my contention; not original; not regulatory; but yet restating what is in fact the case somewhat clearly might be of use and benefit in some regards and I cannot see how it can be overall detrimental to the general welfare to do so. So let us proceed.

Since in The West the election to The White House of Donald Trump and the decision of Brexit to leave the European Union by the UK in the year 2016 both; commentators mainstream have unanimously been at work in presenting these radically and outrageously new turnings in political life, as things such as ‘a triumph for democracy’ and ‘the will of the people prevailing’ and ‘ a return to nationalism’ and ‘a rejection of globalism’ and so forth.

Commentators have gone an extra mile or two well out of their ways to play down these outrageous events by denying as far as their convoluted and devious thought patterns are capable of allowing them to do, that they are in fact insular responses and made against immigrants in particular; against foreigners based in in Brussels in the UK; and in the USA, against foreigners whose efforts are making the meteoric rise of the Far East as an economic force, and as a protest at the toll on domestic jobs this rise has taken.

These barebones facts are often too hot potatoes to be shared with media audiences straight out. They in fact tell too much truth. A better strategy for media pundits has been to deflect from these widespread visceral pretty ignoble feelings and responses – I don’t want to share with you etc – and to couch the naming of these retrograde changes now coming about as ‘a return to nationalism’ and a ‘rejection of globalism’, and a ‘taking back of political power into the people’s hands’ and so on.

These ‘alternative facts’ as presented by our media men and women sound rather better to the ear of an audience who voted in effect against foreigners and against immigrants and against sharing and for the self and for a retrenchment saying ‘what we have we hold’, and who have said in their hearts ‘no’ to outwardness and to expansiveness, to generosity, and worst of all ‘no’ to their own common human sympathies. Both Trump and Brexit represent I have no doubt and in plain speaking – represent a mean and low, selfish and even angry and self-righteous rejection of common human values and sympathies.

The UK here has been agonising about allowing certain children into this nation, a few hundred at most, on the grounds that some of them ‘look older’ than the upper age limit. Thus nowadays even our charitable deeds are pored over and sifted by near and narrow minds before they give them their sparse approval and severe critiques. Worst is that such siftings and narrow investigations of charitable acts has become an acceptable and so has become an assumed-to-be-valid activity across the nation, to be done for and by us. No more might a good many of us sit in our National Theatre auditorium and hear Portia speak:

The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice”

Not without her words ringing hollow in our hardened hearts.

As a nation, as a public media, we do not want to face these facts, these home truths about ourselves, and I myself expect to be shot as being the messenger of their import to many. Another writer, Oscar Wilde, coined yet another Shakespearean allusion when he said of his accusers who had put him on public trial and cause him great humiliation that in his shaming they were feeling; ‘The rage of Caliban seeing himself in a mirror for the first time.’ Thus are the rewards and glories for telling truth in terms not glosed over or sugared.

Frequently nowadays, as such opportunities for showing mercy, generosity, and kindness arise, there speaks out some thinktank (a thinktank is a band of privileged persons who give themselves a sonorous and authoritative sounding name, and thus set themselves up as experts on policy and on social and political management, having little more expertise or right to comment on such matters than does any other concerned entity in the nation). Often thinktank policy recommendations betray their well-heeled ‘respectable’ and niggardly origins; offering such ideas as ‘elderly persons losing their Winter Fuel Allowance – at £200 presently – and this money being offered instead to foreign and domestic entrepreneurs; in effect bribing them to set up factories and services here in UK.

(Now don’t get me wrong, some entrepreneurs are indeed foreigners and so you think me a hypocrite? Please hold your fire for now until I get to a point later whereat I intend to discuss such important and prevalent issues and instances concerning all big entrepreneurs, foreign and domestic here and abroad; about them being such strong advocates of globalism, and simply because as globalism gains pace they are ever better-positioned to play the field and use the whole earth, the wide world at their utility; thus pitting pit governments against governments and nations against nations and peoples against peoples etc etc, so as to get ‘the best deals’ for themselves. Nothing more; nothing less. No question.)

Another thinktank idea which arises from the murk every now and then is that the UK should cut its foreign aid monies it pays gratis to less fortunate nations and economies. Be it known here that this princely sum is a fraction of a % of our GDP and it comes to desperate nations not wholly gratis but often, mostly, with strings attached. It may be that it has to be spent on British goods and services; it may be paid as armaments or what is coyly termed ‘for defence purposes’; it may require some binding obligations from the recipient nations. Milton Friedman’s ‘free lunch’ is nowhere to be seen. Greeks bearing gifts.

Thus we have in this proud nation of ours then persons being paid handsome sums for putting forward such nasty grubby and unseemly policy initiatives as these. They are supported simply enough as one would expect, but which is kept out of the story, by those who might benefit most from their measly stratagems – usually the big entrepreneurs. Indeed many of the thinktank club members are those very same entrepreneurial persons or else they owe their high offices to their favours.

I saw something in a tiny grubby leaflet I was handed by a man on the street some weeks back; and which I read through in part today. In it I came across a small motto which said: ‘Hell will have millions of wills hating each other’. It was a crazy leaflet in some ways, but this motto struck me as having hit on the very head the nail which is the essential problem of our world in general; and which has been for millennia. No less an atheist than the feted French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre is renowned for having written in his drama for stage ‘Huis Clo’ (No Exit) that “Hell is other people”. (Nice to have an accord amongst such adverse company).

Indeed as Our Lord made plain; ‘from whom much is given, much is expected’, yet we find those who have the most – in the material and worldly senses only – in fact bear also the largest egos with the most domineering wills – they are those who must have their ways wherever their wills show an interest. One does not need to have a doctorate in logic to be able to work out the final third of the syllogism here.

Let us recap a little here. The electorates in UK and in USA have sought to vote for their narrow self-interest and in doing so have expressed selfishly their feelings and have repudiated foreigners and immigrants, denied sharing, and any merciful hospitality, and have voted as they see it to ‘take back control’; and thus ‘the people’s will is heard’. This in the media is being expressed as being an anti-globalism response, a return to nationalism, a rejection of governance remote from the electorates’ sympathies and from its burning issues, a democratic triumph etc. In this the media are icing a cake which holds bitter nasty fillings, yet to be tasted.

The international businesses are coming out for pro-globalism, and are likewise as the politicians and media using words and language as weapons in their wars of propaganda; so as to win the spoils at stake. International business prefers globalism because it sees globalism as the lubrication which allows it to wheel and deal as it likes, using the earth as its plaything and the peoples and creatures of the earth as boardgame pieces to be juggled ever to its best selfish advantages.

We here in the UK have honoured entrepreneurs who have clearly followed only their own best selfish interests, and we hallow them as ‘national treasures’ and set them up in our schools as persons to be emulated as role models. Some are seen on national television from time to time and show themselves to be disgraceful persons – but the public like it – we enjoy seeing such villains destroying with humiliation and disgrace others who are stood before them for judgement.

All the skills and character traits of these types of men and women whom we are setting up as laudable, desirable, even praiseworthy, for us and our children to look up to and to copy; these business outlooks and their fiercely and even nastily framed minds; they are all repugnant and ugly and cannot by any means be seen as being charitable or concerned for others, but rather they almost to a man betray themselves to be Little Caesars and Lesser Napoleons; who would likely see men and women suffer and die in droves so as to preserve their standing, wealth, and status. Stalin was no less – nor Hitler – yet in business today we laud it we approve it we recommend it – we are sick, sick, sick.

So in this we agree: rich and poor; entrepreneurial globalist and narrow bigoted citizen nationalist – the insular guy; that we serve ourselves only and exclusively, and we draw inwards our charitable selves and consider only our own wills and their selfish preferment, without regard to others.

Thus rich and poor we deserve one another; we share the same disregard for others and lack of care for them also. Thuswise, reaping what we sow we shall share in and deserve one another’s fates. No pleasure in saying so; inevitable though.

‘The Philistines are a upon thee.’ Indeed. Indeed.

(Two instances of what we have sown in recent years. Here in UK almost universally, I cannot speak for the USA, except to say I am sure it has its own skeletons in the closet, our UK press and media has backed Ukraine and Syria, the rebels in Syria against Assad, and the pro-Europeans in Ukraine; in short, we have encouraged those factions most akin – ostensibly – to our own political ways; and have shown encouragement to them. Our forces here in UK have actually bombed Assad’s troops.

In Ukraine we have helped along discontents by holding out as a temptation to the pro-Europeans a chance of joining NATO: even of EU membership – this has been voiced at times. And I fear we have shown ourselves in this encouragement to be at least as much aiming at a ‘poke in the eye’ for Assad and for Putin as our motives having sprung of a truly humanitarian charity.

We have in short meddled; we have meddled wherein we ourselves would not have tolerated another nation meddling with us. We have indulged ourselves. We have been egocentric in attempting to foist our fine ways and means of doing things on other peoples; because our ways we feel are those that are ‘the best’.

The point here is not whether our ways of life indeed are ‘the best’ or not; the point is indeed that we have presumed that they are and have tried to boast as it were that ‘we are the champions’; and in the face of and in some degree in spite of the upsets and sufferings any reasonable person might have foreseen were going to arise, we have with the help of such encouragements, dangled hopes held out, offered out of our self-conceits to nations whose peoples seemed already to be heading towards great distress. We have aided and abetted here – and in part for our greater glory.

For us in UK to turn our backs on many many refugees fleeing Syria and seeking succour here; when Germany has accepted a million in the space of a year , and when we have been to some degree instrumental in the making of the situation in Syria; this is a sad state of things. Of course no-one was or is able to foresee surely how events like those in Syria and Ukraine were/are going to develop, nonetheless the human charity when it was required of us has not been forthcoming.)