Those of us that are over a certain age can no doubt remember coming home from school (even college or work) and putting the TV onto BBC1 (remember this was in the days where they were no so obviously a corrupt propaganda outlet). John Craven’s Newsround would come on and often we may groan at the interruption of our entertainment but still it was usual that we would sit through it, only pretending to ignore the screen.
I remember being shocked in the eighties at scenes such as these. Feeling sorry for the people of the USSR, Russia and the Soviet countries. These people had to queue for hours, sometimes days even for basic foods, even a loaf of bread. It was not that they were poor, it was a huge food shortage throughout their Union (the term for the Soviet Empire), this was due to isolationist politics, food and trade embargo’s, a currency only recognised within their state, and the ongoing ‘cold war’.
The people themselves were not poor, had a good standard of living, maybe not super cars, the latest gadgets, fashions or music, they may not even have seemed free to us, however they had homes, heating, jobs, security, family and community. Until the food shortages all ate.
I am not proposing that ‘Communism’ worked. It did not. Humans are too greedy for it to. Any government can be corrupted.
What I am however pointing out is the shock and pity we felt for these people. It was unthinkable here. We in the ‘civilised world’ never went hungry. We even believed that those homeless we did have on our streets were ‘tramps’, travellers that ‘chose’ to live on the road, sleeping in hedgerows and doing odd jobs to ‘sustain’ themselves. People that chose to drop out of society.
No one went hungry here. Well except the miners and their families, but again we were told it was their choice for going on strike. What did they expect, daring to stand against the government. We were free! Not like them poor Russians.
We had heard of ‘food banks’ but not here in Britain, not in England, we had not had need of that sort of thing sin Victorian days. We had led the world to abolish such poverty, we had our Industrial Revolution. We fought in other countries to civilise them, to bring their standard of living in some sort of line with our own.
We even brought ‘natives’ and ‘colonials’ here to give them the chance of an education and jobs. Enoch brought them over in the fifties to fill the gaps in industry left by the deaths and maiming of war, god forbid we let women continue working the same jobs as men. Yes they managed during the war but only because they had to. By the seventies Mr Powell was clear the workers he brought over and their families had outstayed their welcome. It was the decent thing for them to go home now. Job done.
Anyway I digress (I am good at that, have you noticed?). So this fine example of ‘civilisation’ that was Britain was shocked at the hungry. No one should starve. Well not in ‘civilised Europe’. Yes the natives in Africa did but, well that was natural. White people should never have to go hungry.
Seriously this is the message we were given and guess what? We even believed it. Russians were hungry because communism was wrong. African and Asian countries had hunger because it was nature. Britain survived Rationing by growing our own, but other than that we would never go hungry.
Guess what ……? WRONG!
Now Britain has hunger. Not through food shortages though. People do not have to queue in shops, the shelves are always filled, no now its because of abject poverty.
Is the country in poverty? Nope, not at all. Most of the people are reasonably well off. Most drive newish cars, live in their own houses, have jobs have healthy bank accounts or at least good credit scores. These people do not see poverty. Certainly do not experience it. Many may never. They do not see the elderly couple bed bound not through health but because it is their only way of keeping warm. They do not see the family where both parents miss meals to make sure the kids can eat, despite them both working. They do not see the young asthmatic having constant breathing issues because she cannot afford an inhaler on prescription. The disabled bloke that kills himself rather than face the shame of the bailiffs. The single mum that has to queue at the foodbank just to ensure her kids can eat. The family evicted because Housing Benefit was stopped due to an error by the Tax Credits department. The children brought into care because their parents could not make ends meet.
This all happens daily. Thousands of times daily these and even more desperate scenarios are played out in the real world. Effecting real people.
You may not be one of these. May not know anyone in this situation. May never know anyone existing in such desperation, or worse no longer existing. I am therefore happy that your ignorance is your bliss. That your conscience is clear, I mean what can you do? Your just one person right?
Well if every ‘one person’ got a bit of morality, if every ‘one person’ decided this needed to change, then just maybe there would be enough ‘one person’s’ to make it change.
I know this has been a long slog to read, and thank you for doing so despite my digression, however we all are humans, we all feel, all love, all should be allowed to live. Race, gender, ability or any other perceived difference should not prevent anyone from living a full and happy life. Geography should not either, whether you live on the Mall, in Moss Side or in Syria we all should be allowed to live, thrive and survive. There are enough resources in our world to ensure no one starves. We are not the worlds police (that should be the UN) so have no right to invade or bomb anyone. Money is not more important than life. Possessions are not how we will ultimately be judged. I am more than a pawn in a rich persons game. Are you?