I don’t know if any of you noticed last week but I was absent from the paper, not passing on my opinions on this and that and trying to take a wry look at the world. The reason for the absence was that I was invaded by a group of rather unwelcome little fellows who caused me great pain and many hours of sitting alone in the bathroom. Some virus came along and caused me five days of utter torture.
Eventually the pain eased and I returned to something of a normal life. I wonder how long the Ebola outbreak in Africa will have to go on before the West begins to take it seriously.
“The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is spreading faster than efforts to control it, World Health Organization (WHO) head Margaret Chan has said.
She told a summit of regional leaders that failure to contain Ebola could be "catastrophic" in terms of lives lost.
But she said the virus, which has claimed 728 lives in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since February, could be stopped if well managed.” (BBC News)
Ebola is a viral illness of which the initial symptoms can include a sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and a sore throat, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). And that is just the beginning: subsequent stages are vomiting, diarrhoea and - in some cases - both internal and external bleeding.
The disease infects humans through close contact with infected animals, including chimpanzees, fruit bats and forest antelope. Ebola kills up to 90% of those infected.
How long would we put up with that in the West before we were pouring millions into research and putting real pressure on the pharmaceutical companies to find a cure? But let’s face it, like the hunger and starvation, sure it’s only the Africans that are suffering it; why would we waste money finding a cure for something that affects people who can’t pay for the drugs?
Then on Friday afternoon at 4.17pm I had another uncomfortable experience. I was working at something in the office when ‘She who must be obeyed’ called me for a cup of tea and we went into the TV room to sit down, enjoy our tea and watch a bit of news.
I don’t know whether what I was seeing was live or recorded but at 4.17pm the BBC news showed two shots of bombs landing on Gaza and I realized that probably a few people had been killed for my entertainment.
It was uncomfortable thinking that while I was sitting at home someone was being killed on TV. Then a few seconds later in the same news item, the people of Israel were shown lamenting the seizure of some poor Israeli lad. They did not seem to be too badly affected by all the bombing that was going on in Gaza.
But again when you think of it, it is mostly the Palestinians that are dying and sure they’re not that important, and they are Arabs and Muslims, which puts them even further down the pecking order.
Such are the vagaries of life: your colour and place of birth have a lot to do with the deal you get in this world. Does it never dawn on the Israeli people that by making the whole of Gaza a big open air prison they are doing exactly what the Nazis did in Poland when they put the Jews of Warsaw into a huge ghetto?
Is there no limit to man’s stupidity? Then on Saturday morning I nearly cried when I read this story from Australia; talk about people being selfish.
“A campaign for a baby with Down's syndrome left with his surrogate Thai mother by an Australian couple has raised over $120,000 (£70,000).
The six-month-old boy, named Gammy, also has a congenital heart condition and needs urgent medical treatment. Pattaramon Chanbua was left to care for him after his Australian parents only wanted his healthy twin sister.
She was paid $15,000 (£9,000) to be a surrogate for the couple, whose identities remain unknown.”
"May this selfish and heartless couple be exposed and shamed for this horrible neglect!" one comment read.
A spokesman for Australia's foreign affairs department told the AFP news agency it was "concerned" by the reports and was in consultation with Thai authorities over surrogacy issues. (BBC News)
Imagine pretending for the next fifty years that you love and cherish this child, knowing that you left his little brother to die or whatever, being polite at his wedding, thinking ‘where is his twin?’ or standing like a good Christian at the first grandchild’s baptism thinking of how much you love all these children with a picture of the Down's syndrome baby etched in your mind.
Selfishness brings its own pain and this couple is heading into years of denial and twisted thinking before finally in old age having to come to some sort of resolution with their God.
Here is another man who would have had an interesting meeting with God:
“The last surviving crewman of the Enola Gay, the US plane that dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan near the end of World War II, has died.
Theodore Van Kirk, also known as "Dutch," died on Monday of natural causes at the Park Springs Retirement Community in Stone Mountain, Georgia, NBC television reported. He was 93.
Mr Van Kirk was 24 when he served as navigator on the Enola Gay, a B-29 Superfortress.
He was one of a crew of 12 airmen. The plane dropped "Little Boy" on Hiroshima at 8.15am on 6 August 1945, killing 140,000 people, more than half the population of the city.”
As I was reading this it dawned on me that August 6th is the Feast of the Transfiguration, the day when the Lord showed his glory to the world: “He shone brighter than the sun and his clothes were brighter than any earthly bleach could have made them,” says scripture.
This would have been read in every Catholic chapel in the world that day as mankind finally usurped the power of God: when we take power to decide on life and death we finish with abandoned babies, open air prisons and atom bombs, and still no cure for Ebola.
“Mr Van Kirk recalled "a sense of relief," because he said he sensed the devastating bombing would be a turning point to finally bring the war to a close. On 15 August, Japan surrendered.
Historians have long been at odds over whether the twin attacks brought a speedier end to the war by forcing Japan's surrender and preventing many more casualties in a planned land invasion.”
Well, one thing we can say with certainty, we hope that God had more mercy on Mr Van Kirk than he and his government had on the people of Japan, or Gaza or West Africa when it comes to it.
There was another point that came up this week that makes you begin to think that the whole litigation rollerball is beginning to get ridiculous:
“British Airways is to be sued for damages over claims one of its pilots sexually abused children in African schools and orphanages.
Lawyers claim the airline bears responsibility because the alleged victims were assaulted by First Officer Simon Wood while on stopovers. Mr Wood, 54, from Potters Bar, Herts, died when he was hit by a train on 18 August last year.
BA said it was "shocked and horrified" by the allegations. An inquest is due to be held into the death of Mr Wood, who had been charged with one count of indecent assault of a girl under 16, two counts of making indecent photographs of a child and one count of possessing indecent images of a child.”
Now far be it from me to stand up for anything with the word ‘British’ at the front of it, but where is all this going to end? How can they make it out that BA is responsible for the behaviour of one of their pilots when he is off duty?
It seems that the world is thinking up ever more wonderful ways of getting more and more money out of every situation. At some point someone will have to say enough is enough.
But the law firm had a shrewd point:
“We allege that Wood was able to abuse the victims, by reason of his employment with the airline, in particular through his involvement with the airline's community relations work. The schools and orphanages that our clients attended were all in receipt of charitable donations from the airline, and Wood played a key role in administering those donations, on behalf of British Airways.”
Then BA has a very simple out—stop doing charity work. Why do charity work when the people you are helping are only using it as a way to make money?
The problem with all this litigation is that it appears to be motivated by greed rather than justice. In all of society there are people whose intentions are not good and they slip through the net. Do we stop everything because of these people, do we do no acts of kindness, no charity work in case thirty years later someone will bring a case against us?
BA would be perfectly right to stop all charity work if these claims are brought. If guilty, and we will never know for sure since he is dead, Mr Wood was a conniving bad man. But must all the other children now be deprived because of his behaviour?
There is left in our society no idea of bad people using the system to get their way. Men like Wood and other paedophiles know how to use the system and often plan for years to get into positions of trust. Just think, if they were politicians or MI5 men who went to visit Kincora, they would get away with it.
As in all things there is the usual hierarchy of victims. And this weekend we saw it all so plainly again. Poor Hadar Goldin, a young Israeli soldier, is dead. Shot or beaten to death in a corner of Gaza fighting a war in which only the people lose, his unfortunate death shows the world in stark relief the value put by the Israelis on his life as compared to the lives of the children of Gaza.
For those of us who knew where our people stood in the pecking order when it came to a hierarchy of victims, we find all this sickening.
I have no idea who is right in that whole Israeli/Palestinian conflict. All I know is that someone in Israel is very stupid: you can’t kill all the Palestinians. Who was the last man to try a move like that?
Was there any good news this week?
Well here is a story from Asia News about an Italian who is well on the way to sainthood, probably within the next five years, a layman called Marcello Candia.
“From successful businessman to lay missionary in the Brazilian Amazon. He cared for lepers and the poor; supported contemplative monasteries and hospitals. The Vatican has recognized his "heroic virtues", one step closer to beatification. In 1975 he was named Brazil’s “Person of the year.”
The Congregation of Saints has promulgated the decree on the recognition of the heroic virtues of the Servant of God Dr Marcello Candia, a lay missionary in the Brazilian Amazon from 1965 to 1983, where he spent his life and all of his energies as a volunteer among the poor and the lepers.
Marcello Candia (1916-1983), son of a Milanese industrialist, was born in Portici (Naples), inherited a carbonic acid factory from his father which he successfully managed for 18 years, establishing three new factories.
But God was calling him to be the "industrialist of charity". As a young student (three degrees in chemistry, biology and pharmacology), he divided his time between his father's industry and works of charity in his native Milan: the " mother and child village", helping refugees from German concentration camps, a free medical clinic for the poor, helping the slum dwellers of the suburbs of Milan (where as a his young mother Louise brought her five children on Sunday afternoon), the "Overseas students College" wanted by Cardinal Montini.” (Later Paul VI)
You know, there are great men and women in every age. There are probably men and women of all ages and creeds doing good work in every corner of the earth, but at 4.17pm on a Friday afternoon, BBC News would rather show a bomb killing a few children in Gaza than talk about these people.
But then again, we would rather see a bomb go off than watch some man make us feel guilty about how we ignore the lepers and the hungry.
The views expressed are not necessarily those of
the editor but are the views of the writer.
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