Two white elephants trampling over a Health Service and other British delights, but also hope

16.09.2016 - Silvia Swinden

Two white elephants trampling over a Health Service and other British delights, but also hope
(Image by Alice Kus for Pressenza)

The overpriced, uncertain, risky and technologically obsolete by the time it’s finished Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Station and the useless, unaffordable, immoral and probably illegal Trident Nuclear Weapons System about to be renewed will take out of the British money pot around £120bn.(about 1/6th of the total budget)

Meanwhile, the much needed, loved, essential and outstanding value for money NHS, the British National Health Service free at the point of delivery, egalitarian and effective is being cash starved, privatised and its staff provoked into industrial action with ridiculous contracts based on the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s misrepresentation and misuse of information about research done on weekend care. The NHS’s total budget is marginally above what is being wasted through Hinkley and Trident, and it has been described as “near collapse”, in order to encourage a panic buying of Private Health insurance.

Legislation about widening Grammar Schools (elitist selection schools that provide excellent education for the brightest but leaves the rest of the education system, and the other children, behind), is about to be implemented by the post Brexit Referendum Government. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is committed to battling against this proposal and this time he seems to have the rest of the party united on the issue. But the legislation can only be “reviewed” at the House of Lords, where the Government does not have a majority, and eventually it will be approved in the Commons, where it does. The strategy also seeks to encourage the middle classes to send their children, those who fail the entrance examination for the Grammar Schools, to private schools to avoid receiving a second-rate education.

The boundary changes proposed for the constituencies that provide the “first past the post” election of Members of Parliament have been designed to overwhelmingly reduce selectively the number of Labour MPs and therefore greatly diminish any balancing power from the “opposition”. Measures such as removal of disability benefits imposed at the same time as reductions in corporate tax, which drew particular criticism in the latest budget will not find any real dissenting power.

Europe is at present questioning the TTIP, it may not even be signed or implemented in its current form, but post Brexit Britain is already pleading to be allowed to enter into these toxic “Free” Trade Agreements which only benefit and reinforce corporate power and profits to the detriment of ordinary people.

Not to mention that Britain has one of the most draconian policies towards refugees even if they come from regions destabilised by ill-thought wars in which it has been one of the main players, as both the Chilcot Report criticism of Tony Blair going to Iraq and more recent criticisms regarding PM Cameron intervention in Libya have acknowledged.

The list goes on, but is already sufficient to illustrate an anti-humanist moment.

Here comes the hope

The direction of the Government presents, however, a sharp contrast with the actions of thousands, maybe millions, of people who have shown solidarity to the Syrian refugees, who get involved in saving closing libraries, local health facilities, participate in charitable events, who raise their voices for a more humane and humanist system, who reject violence in all its forms. The success of the politics of fear may not reflect these trends at election times, and the establishment is thoroughly unforgiving to those who give a voice to such people, ergo the dirty war on Corbyn. But inevitably people like Corbyn, Sanders, Varoufakis and many others courageously rowing against the current are giving visibility to a new sensibility that is growing from the grassroots demanding a change in the direction of humanity, away from war and inequality, towards nonviolence, disarmament, reconciliation and Peace.

And here we have a key word, Reconciliation. We could be very angry with the anti-humanist faction, but if we fail to understand that they are also compelled to act the way they do by their own fear and by the violence we all accumulate within ourselves simply by being brought up in a violent system, then we will miss the only chance to change direction. It does not mean to justify violence or unfairness but to abandon all feelings of revenge in favour of social reconciliation and solidarity, the building of a world for everyone, a Universal Human Nation, diverse and convergent.

In Britain the expression “the pitchforks are coming” refers to the breaking point when people can no longer tolerate a state of injustice and take to the streets, rebel against their “superiors”, like in the Peasants Revolt of 1381, or the anti-Thatcher Poll Tax riots of 1990. They provide temporary relief as any cathartic action does and perhaps a change of policy, but they do not change the system at its roots and raise even more the fear, which is the main enemy of compassion, and the powerful feel the need to reinforce their security by whatever means, including upgrading a little bit more the police state.

Reconciliation, instead, aims to break the vicious circle of violence, vengeance and more violence. Is this how we want to live? Is this the legacy we want to leave to our descendants? But reconciliation has to be proposed by a strong, massive nonviolent movement that can reassure the powerful that “we are not coming to get you”, and at the same time propose the real changes for a humanised system.

Nelson Mandela left us this great reflection on the need for Reconciliation: “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

Active Nonviolence is neither weak nor acquiescent. The right to self-defence is neither imposed nor denied, it’s simply a personal choice. But in nonviolence it implies the minimum force to get oneself out of danger, rather than adding retaliation.

The tools of Active Nonviolence and Reconciliation (1) are freely available to all who choose to build a humanised world, starting by humanising oneself.

(1) Silo’s Words of Reconciliation in 2007 Punta de Vacas Days of Experience

Categories: Europe, International issues, Nonviolence, Opinions
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