What is the Problem?

PART I

WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?

In 2007 we asked you to carry out a health check on our society.

So let’s start again with:

The seven social sins, according to Mohandas Gandhi;

Politics without principle,

Wealth without work,

Commerce without morality,

Pleasure without conscience,

Education without character,

Science without humanity,

Worship without sacrifice.

How many pluses out of seven does our society get?

The answer is none.

The behaviour of politicians has and continues to bring the profession in to disrepute.   Cash for questions and lobbying prevails.   Conflicts of interest are not declared.   Fiddling expenses and home swaps to maximise allowances persists.   It is still snouts in the trough {with some honourable exceptions}.   Honours and appointments are part of the institutional patronage system.   Immoral behaviour and breach of rules is no bar to advancement.   Disgraced and dismissed ministers get reappointed.   The lust for power overrides principle.

The bonus and commission culture is extravagant and endemic in the financial sector.   Remuneration paid to senior executives is out of all proportion to their work.   Non-executive company directors sit on boards for mere days but get fat salaries.   Sport and show business stars demand extravagant remuneration for their services.  Rejected politicians are paid huge sums for going to events and imparting their views.  Minor celebrities are marketed who will only get out of bed for loads of money.  This is undeserved reward; the lust for money.   Disproportionate wealth for little work.

Commerce is dominated by the bottom line on the account sheet.    Success is measured by the size of the profit and the dividend paid to shareholders.   Foreign owned corporations evade legitimate taxes and export their profits.   “Creative accounting is smart and only idiots pay their just taxes”.   Markets are rigged and consumers are fleeced.   When challenged, the stock answer is – “I’m a business man” – as if normal rules of behavior do not apply.   Sport and public services are commercialised and users squeezed.   Desperate people pay over the odds for small loans; usury is rampant.   Entrepreneurs, developers and speculators take risks with money that is not their own.  There is a lack of accountability and of morality.

Welcome to the pleasure dome.   Enjoy yourself; live for today; life is too short; the end justifies the means; trample over everyone to get what you want and satisfy your desires.   The leisure, entertainment and gambling industry can satisfy your every demand.   Don’t think or worry that your attitude and behaviour has consequences.   Other people may be hurt, the ecology destroyed and the environment despoiled.   What has conscience got to do with it?

Knowledge is power, but the acquisition of power, through knowledge, can lead to corruption.   Knowledge is acquired as a result of experience, or information, or learning.   It is stored in our memory and collective memory; it must be understood and used wisely.   Teaching imparts information and skills.   Libraries and books are still a major source of information.   In the new information technology age all knowledge is accessible online.   Education Education Education was New Labour’s three priorities, but this was a tool for social engineering through brain-washing and the dissemination of propaganda.   Teachers were subverted to deliver an agenda where there was no right or wrong.  In this subjective environment discipline became unenforceable and more importantly the encouragement of self-discipline and character building was diminished.  The teaching of morality and faith based values for the common good was crushed.   Computers do not have a conscience but the programmers should.   Imput rubbish and the outcome is rubbish.   Google and Yahoo don’t have souls, and they don’t build character.

Scientific study and research is important for our understanding of the universe.   However, that understanding is in a constant state of flux.   Unproved theories are presented as fact; even then widely accepted facts are replaced by new theories.   There is an issue with scientists who are so focused on their chosen field that they lose sight of the bigger picture.   Even worse are those who are intolerant of other views.   This is particularly true of those who are anti-religious and hide behind humanism and secularism.   These are the same people who experiment with the human embryo.  Their lust for knowledge, power and wealth closes their minds to the truth that they are dealing with living humanity in its most vulnerable form.   That is science without humanity.

The UK, like most of the developed Western world, has declined in religious practice.   Christianity has been riven by dissent and disunity.  For many people Christian worship is a token of christenings, weddings and funerals – the common feature being the party or reception that follows.   In between they may worship before ‘Songs of Praise’ on a Sunday.   The sacrifice at Christian services is no longer broadcast and there is no day of rest.   Communal acts of worship on Sunday are the Big Match or the Shopping Mall.   That is worship without sacrifice.

NEXT

The United Kingdom, and also the European Union, is built on the twin pillars of a free democracy and a free market economy.

Joseph Ratzinger  (Benedict XVI) pointed out as long ago as 1992 that these freedoms were not bringing about a renewal in moral virtue and responsibility.  Democracy is not perfect and only works when it is responsible and based on absolute and unchanging core values which are ethical, such as the sanctity of all human life or the rule of just and reasonable law.  A free market economy that denies any of its citizen’s access to the essentials for playing their part in society is not just.

The teachings/warnings of Pius XI during the inter-war years are resonant for us now; the dangers of individualism, modernism, greed of international finance, rampant capitalism, socialism, authoritarian and dehumanising anti clerical, marriage and family laws.

He stated, “It is the function of social justice to require of each individual that which is necessary for the common good.” And “The common good of a society cannot be provided for unless each individual member, a human being endowed with the dignity of personality, receives all that he needs to discharge his social function.”

SOCIAL JUSTICE HAS BEEN DEFINED AS, LOVING PEOPLE SO MUCH THAT WE WORK TO CHANGE THE SITUATIONS THAT VIOLATE THEIR DIGNITY.

In order to promote the common good of humanity those core values must be a shared vision out of which a common agenda can be agreed.  European unity built on diversity is a contradiction that has resulted in disunity and anarchy.  How do we measure up?

Seven years ago we stated:

In terms of the UK nothing that has been put in place is sustainable.

  Our society is crumbling; our civil liberties are being eroded; our political system is undemocratic; our economy is built on quick-sand; our public services are failing; our natural environment is being destroyed; our communities have been allowed to wither; our cohesion has dissipated; our traditional values have been derided; our leaders are morally bankrupt; our standards of behaviour have been corrupted.

Nothing has changed.

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