Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Happy New Year thoughts.

So here we are: 2019.

2018 went out damp. 2019 has come in sunny. How long that will last remains a mystery, of course. But for the moment we have blue skies. Very nice.

2018 went out with a bit of violence in central Manchester, where someone stabbed three people, scared a whole lot more and led to Victoria Station being closed. He is supposed to have been heard to say, “As long as you keep bombing other countries, this sort of shit is going to keep happening.” The police have been praised for their bravery in dealing with the incident. The public are warned to expect more armed police around the station.

We went to meet friends for lunch recently in Manchester and I was quite horrified by the number of police I saw carrying huge, great assault weapons. I wondered if there was something going on but one of our friends said that this has become the norm since the bomb at the Ariana Grande concert. Manchester city centre is still on terrorist alert apparently. Furthermore she said that she is pleased and reassured to see that armed police presence. Personally I find it very disturbing.

Ai Weiwei, a leading contemporary artist, activist and advocate of political reform in China, was writing about human rights. Among other things he said this:

“Today, Europe, the US, Russia, China and other governments manufacture, possess and sell arms. Pontificating about human rights is simply self-deluding if we fail to curb the dangerous practices that make armed conflict all the more likely. Likewise, if no limits are placed on capitalist global expansion and the pervasive penetration of capital power, if there is no effort to curb the sustained assault by authoritarian governments on natural human impulses, a discussion of human rights is just idle chatter. Such a blatant abdication of responsibility can lead to no good outcome.”

Unfortunately, the sale of arms is a big source of revenue for our governments. It pays the first world to arm and propagate conflict in the third world. Institutional hypocrisy.

Ai Weiwei continued:

“If we truly believe in values that we can all identify with and aspire to – a recognition of truth, an understanding of science, an appreciation of the self, a respect for life and a faith in society – then we need to eliminate obstacles to understanding, uphold the fundamental definition of humanity, affirm the shared value of human lives and other lives, and acknowledge the symbiotic interdependency of human beings and the environment. A belief in ourselves and a belief in others, a trust in humanitarianism’s power to do good, and an earnest recognition of the value of life – these form the foundation for all human values and all human efforts.”

I think we still have a long way to go. Maybe we can make progress in 2019.

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