Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Rog T's Ramblings - Pride, dignity and honesty

Dear Reader,

Please indulge me just a little. I needed a night off so I took the divine Mrs T to see 12 years a slave tonight. Due to reasons I will go into later, I was a bit late, so we had to make do with a fillet-o-fish and a bag of chips at MacDonalds. Now this was quite a novel experience, as I don't think we've ever been out for a McDonalds before in the whole of our 28 year relationship, not least because the good Missus doesn't eat meat. However we were starving hungry and the film began in ten minutes when we turned up at the cinema in Finchley so needs must !

We had planned to see the film before the Oscars award, however we expected a crowd. Sadly there were only six other people in the cinema. Have you seen the film? It is certainly an epic. The other main film in the Oscars was the Sandra Bullock floating in a tin can flick. I guarantee that you will enjoy that far more. 12 Years a Slave will however make you think. It is bizarre to think that in the USA, supposedly the "Land of the Free" such things could happen. What is the point of a written constitution. As I watched the film, the thought struck me that the UK has never had a film exposing our role in the whole horrible business. Quite rightly films have been made about Wilberforce, but if anyone out there has a few million quid to invest, I'd make a film about all of the people in the UK who got rich on this disgusting trade. When it comes down to it, many families in this country still live in relative wealth from their forefathers theft of peoples freedom. The chances are that if you are a citizen of planet Earth and tonight you are hungry you will be black. It is also true that statistically, if you are a millionaire, the chances are that you are not black. Sadly this inequality has not been the product of anything else other than centuries of exploitation. I doubt this little blog will change that, but hey ho, it is the truth so we should not be afraid to say it. I have no idea if it is true, but an economist once told me that 10% of the wealth of the top 2% in the world would ensure that the bottom 50%, who regularly go hungry, could be fed every day. A sobering thought. Do you think that for the top 2% losing 10% of their wealth would materially affect their quality of life. And before any shrill Righist voices start bleating about the politics of envy, I don't envy the lives of those 2% in their gated mansions. I think they'd actually sleep better if they had the conscience to fix the problem. Sadly most don't.

And so onto the reason I was late. I went to see Barnet Eye guest blogger, John Sullivan, in the Royal Free Hospital. John is recovering from a major operation for cancer. He had the operation on Thursday afternoon, In the early hours of Friday morning John nearly died. He recounted his experiences to me, the feelings of dispair as his life started to slip away. I am glad to report that whilst he is not out of the woods completely, he is much better. I didn't stay long as John was tired, but he did make the point that his predicament was caused by misdiagnosis of his carcinoid tumour on his bowel as IBS. John suggested that I should use my blog to tell anyone who has been diagnosed as having IBS but is worried to readup on the symptoms of carcinoid bowel tumours and make damn sure that the doctors are not missing symptoms. If John had had his op when the symptoms first indicated cancer, he would be in a far better place now. John makes me proud to write this blog. He is a man I have the utmost respect for. Being a person of faith, I prayed hard for John all weekend. I hope in some way this helped. I know many of my blog followers are not believers, but I know  that in their own way they will be hoping for John to make a swift recovery. Whenever I mention my own views here on faith, I am always mindful that we all have different views on the subject, but as part of the wider human family, I think we should all express our support for John and anyone else we know in his situation as we see fit. I had an interesting conversation with a friend who is an atheist who was pondering on the idea of a "Humanist Prayer book" for want of a better description. He said that he would like to see some formal form of words to express solidarity with people suffering illness and hardship, in the way a Catholic may say an "Our Father" or "Hail Mary". Clearly there would be no mention of a deity. It is probably my ignorance, but whenever someone who is a friend and an Atheist is ill or in need, I always feel embarrassed to say "I'm praying for you" for fear of putting their backs up. I do think we should have an accepted secular alternative to express our full solidarity. I'd welcome any guest blog which can solve that dilemma. As far as I am concerned, praying for someone is simply an expression of solidarity with another human being and should be accepted as such. One friend who is an Atheist said to me "I accept I may be wrong about the existence of God and if I am, I damn well hope he cures me" I am pleased to report that my friend did make a full recovery and he believes this was due to the finest medical care courtesy of the NHS. I wouldn't argue with him either.

And finally, I must mention what a fine day I had yesterday. There is a local Troll who spends his life leaving nasty comments about me on my blog and on twitter. Yesterday he left a few bilious comments implying I have a problem with alcohol. Now I will be the first to say I love a night on the tiles, but there are many other things in life that are just as good. Yesterday I had a great day indulging in one of my biggest loves. I am talking about football. First I watched my sons team  Watling FC under 14's play a truly great game of football beating Hanwell U14's 8-0. The Watling team have new coaches and it is great to see the rewards for some really hard work. We then returned to watch our team, Manchester City FC win the League Cup, with three amazing goals. We wrapped it up at Powerleague with a five a side kickabout in the pouring rain, winning 18-11. My son scored nine of the goals and I scored three. For me, aged 51 to be able to play football with my son is a pearl of a pleasure. So yes, I love a drink, but even though City won, I didn't touch a drop. I will probably make up for it on Weds, when I meet up with some old friends after work.

Please forgive me my rambles. As I am sure you can imagine, I have had a rather strange few days. If I make it through to Wednesday evening and a few beers with my sanity intact, I think I'll have done really well ! (only joking). I will say one thing though, watching a film such as 12 years a slave makes me realise a) how lucky we are in London in 2014 and b) reminds me that just having good intentions is not enough. There were scenes in the film which demonstrated that the keepers of Slaves were all "good Christians" and saw nothing wrong with their actions. As we all tuck into our comfy, centrally heated homes, saying our prayers for our sick friends, half the world goes to sleep cold and hungry. We may not whip, beat and lynch anyone, but every time we buy a product from the Third World which is not Fairtrade, in some small way, we remain a part of that system of inequaality. With that thought I am turning in.


Nicholas said...

Suggest you visit the Museum of London in Docklands (DLR to West India Quay) if you want an excellent exposition of London (and Londoners) involvement in the slave trade.

PS - saw Drunk at the Bridewell on Saturday and saw you acknowledged in the programme (for the benefit of your Troll, "Drunk" is the name of a contemporary dance suite by Drew McOnie, and not a boozy night out).

Jim said...

As a token atheist reader, I'd suggest the rather excellent Religion for Atheists by Alain de Botton. This has quite a few ways that non-religious people can use religion in the manner that you suggest.

There's also New Unity, a Universalist Unitarian church not prohibitively far away with a minister who describes himself as a 'religious atheist'. He's an interesting guy to read on twitter.


Lastly, when people have researched the effects of prayer on healing the findings are as follows: if the person doesn't know they're being prayed for, no measurable effect. But if they do know there is a small effect which studies have found difficult to pin down. Some studies found that it is positive but the largest, best controlled study found a small negative impact on recovery.

Nobody knows why the negative effect would be there. One speculation is that prayer underlines the severity of the situation but again this is pure speculation.

Of course, you might say that God doesn't want to be tested and withdraws his help as soon as you look at things scientifically. But that brings up all kinds of problems. Probably a topic for another day.