We are living in truly remarkable times

Horse watching

Horse watching (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Three news items struck me yesterday so much so that they inspired a mention because they show we are living in truly remarkable times.

1. The Pope resigns.

I’m agnostic so have no affiliation to any particular religion, however today’s news that the Pope has resigned came as a surprise. This is history in the making.  The Pope was appointed in his late seventies and has decided after c. 8 years that as an octogenarian he no longer has the strength or energy required to fulfil his duties as effectively as he would wish. I’m sure this news was a shock to the Catholic Church and as our news has reported, it breaks with the tradition of a Pope holding office until his death. I respect the Pope for his decision; acknowledging that his age and health were impinging on his ability to fulfil his duties and dealing with it by going against the expectations of so many people must call for a lot of soul-searching. Whether you like him or not and irrespective of your personal beliefs, seeing someone who is courageous enough to go against centuries of tradition to do what he believes is right for the greater good of his organisation is pleasantly refreshing.

2. We’ve been eating horse meat.

I know this is common practice in many parts of the world but in the UK horse meat isn’t typically sold or eaten.  In the last week a new and growing scandal has emerged since the discovery that food sold in many of our major supermarkets as beef, e.g. Burgers, mince,  etc has been constituted of horse meat to a greater or lesser extent. One particular brand of ready-made lasagne was found to be almost entirely horse meat. Most people I’ve spoken to aren’t overly concerned that they’ve eaten horse products. What’s irritated them is that the practice took so long to uncover and supermarkets and food manufacturers failed to identify problems in their supply chain or manufacturing processes. The question many people are asking is if horse meat can be passed off as beef, can meat that is unfit for human consumption also be slipped into our food?

3. One in Four have no support

Recent research by MacMillan Cancer Support has identified that one in four people in the UK go through cancer diagnosis and treatment alone. Many have been abandoned by friends and family following diagnosis, for some the cost of travel prevents people visiting and for others they simply have no-one in their lives to offer assistance or friendship.  Medical staff involved in the research state that a significant number of those who are unsupported refuse treatment or are unable to get to hospital appointments. Many have gone without meals as they’ve been too unwell to cater for themselves. In a country that is densely populated, it’s remarkable that 25% of cancer patients have no support. What is even more remarkable is that this country is supposed to be an exemplar of human rights yet it is failing this section of society, leaving them to fend for themselves and, lets not beat around the bush here, die a horrible death if they’re unable to attend for treatment or refuse it because they cannot cope on their own.

Some of our politicians ought to consider taking a leaf from the Pope’s book. The horse meat in our food is a scandal no doubt driven by greed and the desire to make a fast buck.  The MacMillan 1 in 4 research is a truly shameful reflection on our modern-day society, a failing welfare system and people who just don’t care as long as they’re seen to be managing a national debt all their parties were in no small part responsible for creating.  Not so long ago people with no friends or family to care for them would’ve received state funded help at home, now they have to be at deaths door before they qualify for any assistance. (I know because I’ve looked at the Disability Living Allowance criteria).

We live in truly remarkable times where money drives greed, dishonesty and despair in equal measure. Welcome to the 21st Century Britain you won’t hear about in tourist information publications.

United Kingdom: stamp