Monday, May 27, 2013

Thatcher: Divisive icon?

I have a discussion session with some of the youngsters in my local church every Sunday. I was asking them this last Sunday what they thought of Margaret Thatcher and the overwhelming response I got was silence and the ‘who’s-that’ look on their faces. Now, while the current generation don’t exactly give two hoots who she is or what she stands for, older ones had little choice but to give more than a thousand hoots.

Mainstream media outlets have done the best they can to tell us she was a modern day lady of sacred hearts. CNN, BBC et al have tried to tell us all she was one of the best things to happen to mankind as far as political leaders are concerned in the 20th century. I know enough however to know these corporations are being controlled behind the scene very likely by those who profited from the views and causes she championed. The rich!
Now, I was not around when she was the prime minister to be able to give an accurate opinion this way or that but I like to explore things from different perspectives.

We must resist the attempt by politicians like her and the commonplace media to give her credits she does not merit. If she was such a great leader, why would Britons rejoice and party over her death? Many celebrated that the leader they loved to hate had died. A Trade Union leader did not spare words in condemning the role she played in the politics of England. Chris Kitchen said: “We've been waiting for a long time to hear the news of Baroness Thatcher's demise and I can't say I'm sorry. I've got no sympathy for Margaret Thatcher and I will not be shedding a tear for her. She's done untold damage to the mining community. I don't think Margaret Thatcher had any sympathy for the mining communities she decimated, the people she threw on the dole and the state she left the country in. I honestly can't think of anything good I can say about Margaret Thatcher.”

Thatcher was until death the most divisive and controversial Prime Minister in British history. The ordinary British people, whose lives she shattered while at 10 Downing Street, hated her even in death. Nevertheless, those who benefited from her free market policies that enriched the rich and impoverished the poor and those who shared in her racist and oppressive ideology loved her until death.

Margaret Thatcher

Thatcher’s policies towards Africa, especially South Africa was imperialistic. I guess if she had her way she would not have minded recolonizing Africa. She was a staunch supporter of Apartheid that ravaged that country. At one point she had the audacity to call Nelson Mandela and all those fighting against white brutality, terrorists.

Notwithstanding the emotions surrounding her death, no one can take away from Thatcher the fact that she was one of iconic personalities of the 20th century and still remains the first and the only female British Prime Minister. Her death however reminds us of the mortality of man, no matter how powerful such a person is or was. People who find themselves in the corridors of power should use their position to engineer enduring social change and not to perpetrate special interests. The evil that men and women do lives with them and after them as we have seen with Thatcher’s death. 

Police brutality

It was like a bad movie. A man was chained to the back of a van and dragged through the streets. In broad day light. By the police.

I guess being chained and dragged is a crime big enough to lose faith in humanity, but that it was done in broad daylight and then by people who are supposed to serve and protect the citizenry is just plain demonic. I don’t care why it was done, it simply is wrong. And as if fate just chooses to take a pee on all of us while smoking a Cuban cigar with a James Bond villain laugh, the reason for all these? He was wrongly parked! 

Not nice. Not nice at all.

Mido Macia, a 27-year-old Mozambican, was dragged close to 30 miles by the South African police for parking on the wrong side of the road. He later died from being beaten inside the police station. Simple enough fact! The question then is, if those you are meant to report violent crimes to are the ones perpetrating it, who do you report them to? The authorities? Well, in South Africa, think again. In 2008, with racial tensions high, South African Deputy Police Minister Susan Shabangu urged a shoot-to-kill policy, insisting, “I want no warning shots… You have one shot and it must be a kill shot. You must kill the bastards if they threaten you or the community. You must not worry about the regulations. That is my responsibility. Your responsibility is to serve and protect,” Shabangu told police in Pretoria. The argument can be made that he was carried away with the zeal of protecting indigenous south Africans, but is that just cause for a man in authority to spew put so much venom with the backing of his high office?

We are fortunate enough that the GardaĆ­ are not exactly that rough-handed in their approach to any form of crime fighting but with the world increasingly becoming a global village, what if anyone goes holidaying in other parts of the world?

Rodney King become sort of the poster boy for police brutality in 1992. King was tasered twice. And he was beaten. Well beaten. He was surrounded by 5 LAPD officers. In a country where freedom and justice is meant to be prevalent. Yea. The land of the free and home of the brave. Where democracy is supposed to be the watchword and shining light. That, I suppose clearly shows police brutality isn’t some third-world syndrome. 

Rodney King: No caption needed

A point of argument to justify this method of policing is that it serves criminals right. That criminals can’t be treated with kid’s gloves. That I do agree with. But policing like a bunch of heroin fuelled evil clan from a sci-fi movie, treating everyone in the community like animals in anticipation of crushing the activities of a bad few can be likened to killing a rat with a bomb. Yes, the rat dies, but so do a couple of human beings and valuable property. Won’t we all be better served using a club of chemicals to kill the rats instead? Why go all GI-Joe on people who are just trying to live through what is already a difficult economic environment? It’s wrong. Very wrong. Like we say where I’m from. There’s only one way to describe what’s wrong; It’s wrong.

Consider others

I see us as a people who are too busy looking up while moving forward forgetting we might run into others in front of us or even worse trample on those lying down. It seems almost adamic, embedded in us humans to take into reckoning only those of our class and ilk and ignore completely those that are below our level in class, status, financial, spiritual or whatever other inclination you choose to judge by. How about we try looking forward from time to time while looking up?

In the same world where there are those who live on two dollars per day, millionaires go into depression for not being on the Forbes list of billionaires. In the same world where others struggle to have any form of connection with a spiritual side, other ‘anointed’ ones join issues with God for giving them less anointing than a fellow ‘anointed’ one. Churches are too busy ‘sinner-hunting’ to care about the homeless. The guy with two children is too busy wanting a third to spare a word of encouragement for the barren.

And we wonder why it’s a dog-eat-dog world? And we wonder why wickedness persists? No one spares a thought for those less advantaged in whatever ramification. If the only ones we consider human or permit into our private worlds are those who have something to offer, is there any wonder why those left out of the human circle – sometimes due to no fault of their own- will do anything to become significant? We wonder why third world citizens that are neglected become urchins or cyber criminals in the developed world? Isn’t it inevitable? See, human survival instincts are enormously unbelievable and if you choose to show off your food to a hungry man without giving him to eat, he will rob you of it. Simples!

I condemn crime in the strongest possible terms. Not just for my religious beliefs, but from a personal moral standpoint of view as well. But you just see some things coming. A girl who chooses to wear skimpy clothes even Nicki Minaj would consider scandalous and chooses to pass the night if she’s allowed in a prison block of hardened criminals knows what’s going to happen overnight. But no, in the world we live in, the silly girl will still come out and press rape charges. Seriously? What did she think they’ll do with her? Bible study? Play twister? When the ruling class choose to trample on the lowly classed, create no jobs, make life unbearable and they turn around to claim they are being robbed when they drive through certain places, what did they think would happen? Prayers for them?

A line in MJ’s We are the World says:
“There’s a choice we’re making
We’re saving our own lives”

And saving our own lives is exactly what we’ll be doing in lending a hand to those who need it. A shoulder to those in tears. A glass of water to the thirsty. Warm clothes to those in need of warmth. It might mean a lot for you to let it go but it certainly means more to those who are receiving it. Someone once said the poor will one day become so poor, they’ll have nothing else to eat but the rich. And I tell you, we’re moving towards that place. I hope we don’t get there but for my wish to come true, some things have definitely got to change.

I hear people tell me of the ills in doing good. I hear of the backlash that might potentially come from being good to others. And I know more than most actually, of being paid ill for good. But should that put an end to doing good? Shouldn’t that just mean we should be careful in doing good? I think many people just want excuses to stop doing the uncomfortable.

Spare a thought for the less privileged. God likes it. Humans like it. And you just might be doing yourself some good.