However, a couple of things came up last week that I believe can go a long way to showing us what is wrong with our society. I am writing about them in no particular order, not putting the worst first or anything like that.
The first two bits we’ll look at are from science.
The female mouse lived a normal lifespan and could give birth to young, say the researchers. Scientists at a linked institute recently created nearly 600 exact genetic copies of one mouse.”
Then there was the news that scientists are going to be allowed to genetically engineer children who are at risk of being born with some inherited disease. They will have three parents, two women and a man.
“The technique will result in babies with DNA from three people - two women and a man - and this genetic alteration will be passed down the generations.
Once babies have been born using this technique, there will be no going back. A permanent and novel genetic change to members of the human race will have been made.”
This is a quote from the BBC news and concerns doctors who shall help eradicate genetic disease. We are developing the ability to make new people, to select what characteristics we want and to do away with those we don’t.
A brave new world lies ahead! We might even soon be able to engineer the perfect burger.
Then we learn that our friends and neighbours have been poking their noses into our affairs without us even knowing it. The latest news is that the US has been spying on us all along reading everything from our e-mails to our text messages.
We all thought that they had come to see the Giants Causeway when they were really planting listening devices to hear what all the people of the New North were talking about. Shame on them!
Finally last week we had the emergence of Anglogate, the dreaded recordings of the Free State’s top bankers laughing and joking about the way they had messed the country up.
“NEW Anglo Tapes reveal bank chief executive David Drumm joking with a senior executive about the haemorrhage of funds from the institution hours before the Government bank guarantee.
As his bank teetered on the brink of collapse, Mr Drumm is heard laughing: ‘Another day, another billion’”.
This quote from the Independent shows the utter contempt that the bankers had for the people of Ireland.
Frauline Merkel also heard the tapes and said about her task of trying to convince Germans to help the Irish:
"I have nothing but contempt for this. The tone seems to be similar across all the banks," she said.
"It is for us a huge challenge to convince people who get up every day and every day do their work and always pay their taxes, do everything, even show solidarity with other people who are weaker.
"All of this is destroyed by that and so I have nothing but contempt for that."
This was said at Brussels by Merkel after an EU summit; a penny for the thoughts of Enda the Red as he stood and listened to what the world really thought of him and his bankers. Ms Merkel’s English may not be perfect but it is easy to see that ‘she was not amused’ as a previous sour leader once said.
All of these things appear totally unrelated and yet there is a deep connection between them.
The connection is that there has arisen a belief in the world that we can do what we want, ignoring everything outside of ourselves, admitting to neither a Higher authority or a common good.
“About 25,000 people die every day of hunger or hunger-related causes, according to the United Nations. This is one person every three and a half seconds. Unfortunately, it is children who die most often. Yet there is plenty of food in the world for everyone.”
These are the opening lines of a website called poverty.com. And into this world we are bringing a £10 burger.
What are we saying as we chew on our burger, the juice running down the side of our cheeks?
“Die, you little poor child; see if I care, I have my Posh Burger.”
What was the attitude of Drumm and his banker friends towards the Irish if not one of scorn?
And now we are going to create designer babies, just as we want them and we shall do whatever we want with whatever we want. We are now the god’s of science.
The bankers in Ireland genuinely believed themselves to be above reproach and above the law. They were aided in this thinking by the craven politicians who let them do whatever they wanted.
The politicians needed the people to keep on thinking that Ireland was getting richer so they let the bankers pump borrowed money into the system as if there was no tomorrow.
And they all walked away with their pensions.
It is the emergence of this worldwide culture of arrogance that is the frightening thing. And why is it frightening?
Because we all know in our hearts that something is dreadfully amiss. What we are seeing is the rise of institutional evil on a world scale. This is globalization at its worst. Let me explain.
First a few words on what I mean by institutional evil.
Institutional evil is when a government or organization enacts and enforces laws which are designed to harm one section of the community either to impose its will or to gain political favour.
Two good examples of this that we all know of are Apartheid in South Africa and the ‘shoot to kill’ policies of the British in this wee land. The cover up of Bloody Sunday is another.
While the world increases in overall wealth most people are getting poorer and a few are getting awfully rich. But the whole financial system is geared to the generation of wealth for the few.
Here is a simple example that we can all understand.
I pay my phone bill by one of those cards. I have done so from 1993. Every week I go to the post office and pay my £15. I am actually in front with my phone bill as I pay ahead of the due date.
However, because I pay up front by card, my phone company charges me an extra 4% for doing so. ‘To cover administration costs,’ is their excuse.
Look at hidden bank charges and the way that insurance companies wangle out of paying.
Profit is the overarching motive of all business; the concept of public service has been lost to the twin god’s of ‘a high yield to the shareholders and a high share price for the investor.’
Take these few small facts and multiply them a few billion times to cover all the average people’s transactions and you can see a pattern of an institutional decision to keep people poor.
Here is another simple example of this institutional evil.
Last year Ireland produced enough food to feed 35 million people. There are only five million people in the Free State. And yet we see food queues in the heart of Dublin as the rich get richer and the tapes show how these rich folk laughed as the country went broke.
There has never been a famine like the one we are living through today; 1.4 billion people are either starving or suffering from food shortage related diseases. Even in the West, where obesity is becoming the number one health risk, we still dump more than enough food to feed all these people.
And yet the food is dumped to keep the prices high. This is the one of the worst examples of all the institutional evils in this world of ours.
In this they were helped by servile politicians who put the desire for prestige and power ahead of the good of the people.
Does anyone seriously believe that Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen did not know what was going on?
However, this evil always starts out being presented as a good. “The banks shall have freedom to let the market rein,” said Thatcher when she began deregulation.
“Internment shall flush out the IRA,” said Brian Faulkner on Aug 9th, 1971.
The disturbing aspect of this institutional evil is that it pervades everything. Even poor Willie John McBride is feeling its effects.
Willie John is a product of the age when sport was sport and not a business. Sadly for him, his idea of sport has gone the way of the proverbial Dodo.
The British and Irish Lions played a big game on Saturday against Australia. Brian O’Driscoll was dropped from the match so that two Welshmen who had played together before could be on the team. Willie John objected that O’Driscoll was the best player and should have been picked.
But poor old Willie John looks at the Lions tour as what it was when he was a lad; a celebration of rugby and an opportunity for the best from these islands to go on tour. It was more about the joy of playing rugby than winning.
Not so today, Willie John. The Lions tour is now a business opportunity by players and coaches to show their worth. The more they perform the more they can command in wages and bonuses.
There is no room for sportsmanship in sport these days. Drive into any medium sized town and you’ll find a shop specializing in performing enhancing supplements for weight training men and women.
No one seriously believes that sport is clean any more. The corruption scandals in FIFA the International Olympic Committee and the prevalence of drug use have put paid to the illusion of the Willie John McBride type of sportsman. His type of honest amateur is a thing of the past.
“This is all in the interests of national security,” is the cry of the politicians. An evil passed off as a good.
George Monbiot, wrote in the Guardian on 2nd July 2013:
“It’s the silence that puzzles me. Last week, the Chancellor stood up in parliament to announce that benefits for the very poor would be cut yet again. On the same day, in Luxembourg, our government battled to maintain benefits for the very rich. It won. As a result, some of the richest people in Britain will each continue to receive millions of pounds in income support from taxpayers.”
Monbiot was writing about the British and German government quashing a move by the EU to limit the amount of money big farmers can claim under the Common Agricultural Policy.
Now before farmer Brown from ‘Youknowwhere’ thinks I am against the small farmer, let me say that I am not.
What the EU was trying to do was prevent large estates getting huge amount of money from grants that goes to the super rich estate owner farmer. A lot of the land in the UK for example is owned by Arab investors who are paid millions by the EU simply for owning land here.
But Monbiot went on to write:
“The minister responsible for cutting income support for the poor, Iain Duncan Smith, lives on an estate owned by his wife’s family. Over the past ten years, it has received €1.5m in income support from taxpayers. How much more obvious do these double standards have to be before we begin to notice?”
When you begin to look at it you see that ‘institutional evil’ is the real underlying problem in the world.
The minimum wage was put forward as a great good; now there is hardly a shop girl in the country who earns a penny above it. And if they ask for more they are told that ‘there are plenty of others out there who would want your job. You’re lucky to have it.’ So the poor are caught in a poverty trap.
That is the problem in our society; institutional evil has become the norm. Society now functions on a basis that 25,000 people a day dying of famine is normal, that poverty among our children and elderly is acceptable, that there is a class of people who are above repute and can take as much as they want from society.
We all buy into it, justifying our behaviour by the norms of the world and in this way we become part of the problem. We use the institutional evil to shield us from the reality of our own worst actions; “If the banks can devise ways of getting money dishonestly and Google and Amazon bleed the nation dry, sure why shouldn’t we.”
We all become part of it.
And by the way, I didn’t mention the 32,000 human beings a day torn from their mother’s wombs as the women of Ireland bay for the blood of their children.
No wonder we all feel a little ashamed.
“Our God is a great God.”
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