Turning on the radio I heard that the body of a young boy had been found in Scotland. When I got back to the house I looked at the BBC news for the region and read the story about the death of the young boy.
There were also two other headline stories concerning death in Scotland. One was about a young man who was found guilty of killing his mother and burying her dismembered body in a shallow grave on a wooded hillside. The other was about a Russian student whose body was found in a remote area of Argyll.
I thought to myself, ‘poor old Scotland is getting a bartering this weekend.’
I am not the only one feeling a little powerless:
"When you cut through the noise, what’s really at stake is how we remain true to who we are in a world that is remaking itself at dizzying speed."
President Obama, announcing significant changes to the way the government collects and uses telephone records. (New York Times)
“America’s capabilities are unique,” Mr. Obama said. “And the power of new technologies means that there are fewer and fewer technical constraints on what we can do. That places a special obligation on us to ask tough questions about what we should do.”
The president insisted there was no evidence the N.S.A. had abused its power, and said that many of its practices were necessary to protect Americans from a host of threats since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
We know all about these things. For forty years the RUC held files on every man, woman and child in the country. I often wondered why Sinn Fein have never pushed for these to be made public and I still wonder if these files have ever been destroyed or are they still stored or even being maintained.
We are being spied on all the time: big shops monitor what we buy, particularly with credit cards, so that they can selectively target us with adverts and promotions. One of the reasons I have left Facebook is that every time I turn it on I get adverts for stuff that I only briefly looked at on eBay or Amazon.
Yet even in the midst of all this I do not feel I am being spied on. To be honest I could not care less if some bloke in GCHQ, the British intelligence gathering place, or in the Pentagon, is reading my e mails and listening to my telephone. God love him if he finds my telephone conversations and e mails interesting. If he does he should go and take a good long look at his life.
Terrorism, local, national or international, is not my field. I don’t know if the USA needs all this surveillance or not but I do know that if they have the technology then they shall use it. Any country would do the same.
Poor old America is not well liked at the minute, but I don’t think that this anti American sentiment is directed at the US for any particular reason; it is just that nobody likes the top dog. Everyone favours the underdog. USA is the big boy on the block and he can do what he wants and we feel a bit of resentment because of that.
But Obama is right on one thing, "When you cut through the noise, what’s really at stake is how we remain true to who we are in a world that is remaking itself at dizzying speed."
Anyone reading the papers in Scotland at the weekend would have thought that their community was falling apart. Anyone who lived through the horrors of 9/11 would also have thought that their community was under serious threat. No one likes to feel their world falling in around them.
Obama used the phrase, ‘true to what we are’ in his speech. This begs the question ‘what are we?’
Have you ever stopped to think of what we have become in Ireland at this point in our history?
Last week we rightly, and I stress rightly, started a public inquiry into the abuse of children in institutions in Northern Ireland. On the same day it was reported that the number of abortions in hospitals here increased from 35 to 51 in the last year. This does not include those in the Marie Stopes clinic.
This is the same UN that aggressively promotes abortion in Africa and stands idly by as 1 billion people live in hunger. That is 1 in every 7 people on earth is now living in hunger as we in the West are eating ourselves to death.
Two of our five political parties in Stormont now actively promote abortion.
I listen to Obama who uses drones for killing civilians like we swat flies, and I think to myself, ‘how can we take seriously these people who on the one hand shout about child abuse and on the other want to kill the child in the womb?
It is impossible for a person who supports abortion to be serious about being against child abuse. There is a very great lie somewhere in the middle of their thinking and it takes a lot of mental gymnastics to maintain this lie. The way that they have come up with justifying abortion is to say that life does not start til the child is 24 weeks in the womb.
At 23 weeks, 6 days, 23 hours and 59 seconds it is a ‘thing’ and one second later it is a person, and wait for it, the ‘thing’ becomes a person because the law says so! Talk about the sovereignty of Parliament: it even overrules God.
So I go back to the question, ‘what are we?’
Let’s first define what we are not.
We are not a community of equals; the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting more numerous. There are now half a million people in Britain without enough food....and this is what we know of. What about all those starving pensioners who are too proud to admit that they are without. There are food banks opening every day and the government won’t even support them.
Some jobs are for our betters: look at the bankers who have turned banking into little more than a criminal conspiracy and yet expect and receive huge bonuses. The cabinet is almost all entirely Eton and other public school boys who are from wealthy families.
Have you read about the CRC or the consultants to the water board in the Free(ish) State? If not, go and look it up.
We are not all equal under the law: how many solicitors have ever gone to prison for cocaine use? And yet cocaine is the drug of choice for the professional classes. Any survey of prisoners shows that the working classes predominate among the inmates.
Do you feel a stakeholder in society?
For a while after the Good Friday Agreement I felt part of Northern Ireland and felt that I belonged here. Again I am losing that sense of belonging.
I don’t like what we are or what we have become, because I no longer know what it is to be a northern Catholic. I have no respect for our politicians who are voting in laws to kill the innocent. I have no respect for the medical profession who carry out these ‘operations’ and a society that is ever more designed to keep the poor in poverty is not a society to which I owe allegiance.
Gradually I am choosing to ignore political life and the big ‘moral’ issues that face our land. I do this because the starting point for our morality is wrong. Morals are now a matter of majority rule and the dictate of the rich: if the majority say we can kill our children in the womb then so be it; the banks can behave as they want with impunity. There is no ultimate right or wrong, what I say is right for me is right and what you say is right for you is right.
But there is a flaw in this reasoning. If you hold with this reasoning then the Muslims in Saudi Arabia are right when they say that women should not drive, be educated, or leave the home without their husband’s permission; you cannot say that majority rule is right here but not in Saudi Arabia.
Also, from history, if you say that the majority makes a thing right, then the killing of the Jews was right in Hitler’s time. If you can’t reconcile these things then you don’t believe in the principle that the majority can make an immoral action moral.
Of course these examples are wrong but if you hold that the majority or public opinion can make what is immoral become moral then you have to be able to rationalize these examples. You can’t disagree with them.
I live in the middle of this flawed reasoning but I have to find my values somewhere, so where do I turn?
I would never accept these words because as an Irish Catholic I could not imagine paying money to the British to send troops here to terrorise our people.
But in recent years I have come to ask myself if Jesus was talking about money at all. Perhaps Jesus knew that the Pharisees and the politicians were flawed in their thinking of what would make the world right.
It would be easy to say that politicians do not care about people but I could not put my hand on my heart and say I believe that is the case. I know many local politicians who appear genuine about trying to do good for the community.
However, at the national level, the political parties are more guided by opinion polls and focus groups than they are by principles. The popular media, which follow a secularist agenda, have them running scared.
I am not saying, nor do I believe, that our political leaders are bad people, but what I am saying is that they have put themselves in a position where getting votes becomes more important than anything else.
This is the weakness of the system.
A society that does not have God as its moral focus runs about like a headless chicken and it takes leaders of great moral strength to stand up to this secular agenda; we do not have them.
Thankfully my Catholic faith lets me look beyond the narrow secular issues of the day and enables me to see the bigger picture.
Perhaps Jesus was not speaking about money at all when he said “Give unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”
Maybe he was saying to leave those people who want to play politics and who will sell themselves out for a vote, to their work and for us to go on living in some way that reflects what God says to be good.
When I hear Barack Obama talk about ‘what we are’ I turn off, not because I do not care but because it is none of my business.
When I hear our politicians talk about the victims of child abuse I turn off because there are other victims that they are helping to create and I don’t want to be part of it.
I choose to leave all this and try to live my own life in some sort of orderly manner. I am not very successful at it but I keep trying.
When Obama says that the killing of civilians by drones is wrong and puts an end to the US carrying out such attacks, I shall take him seriously. When the government stops allowing huge bonuses to be paid to bankers who have destroyed the country and begins to put the money into really helping the poor, I shall take them seriously, and when the United Nations calls to account the West for not sharing food with the poor, then I shall take them seriously.
Until then I shall treat them with the same indifference as Jesus paid to the Pharisees and Caesar, paying my taxes but in no way believing that our governments or the UN really care about the people.
Jesus knew human nature and he knew it well. He understood that the lure of power and prestige would override truth and justice in the vast majority of people.
He let those who wanted to be Caesar worship Caesar. Me—I’ll go to Mass in the morning and worship God.
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