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Quaker Meetings are not hotbeds of the competitive instinct and in most Meeting Houses you will probably find a poster depicting two donkeys tethered to each other, straining in opposite directions to reach bundles of hay. In the second frame, the animals have realised the futility of their actions and are standing side by side munching contentedly from the same manger. 'Co-operation is better than conflict' is the caption.
Writing in the Observer on 14 October, the paper's chief political correspondent Andrew Rawnsley presented readers with a composite of the speeches given by the leaders of the three main parties at their recent conferences. It is an amusing swipe at the banalities and dog-whistles of political rhetoric, which you can read here: http://bit.ly/UVtj78 but it is also a reminder of something ugly and delusional which underlies that rhetoric.
The government wants “To set our country back on the path to prosperity that all can share in” and “mend a broken society”, claimed UK Prime Minister David Cameron at the Conservative Party conference on 10 October. Despite national policies inflicting deepening misery on the poorest in society, and promises by his ministers of more of the same, he was seeking to portray his leadership as compassionate and inclusive.
Several news stories coincided recently to graphically illustrate the terrible inequalities in our global village.
In London, and in other rich cities around the world, people queued for days to be the first to buy the new Apple iPhone 5. Not everybody was queuing to buy for themselves. Some people (plebs?) were being paid hundreds of pounds to stand in line for days on behalf of other, presumably richer individuals, who had better things to do with their time.
“Even the burial of his body in the Abbey was a species of theft when you come to think of it”. George Orwell's words came into my mind as I watched the ceremonies surrounding today's 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens.