About Me

"Setting the world to rights"...one blog at a time! Plus anything else that comes to mind

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The good and the bad

Sometimes this world seems filled with the ignorant and the arrogant. Bullies who try to make the world their way either through manipulation or terrorism. People who are only out for themselves. Sometimes it seems as though these are the only people in this world. Sometimes it pays to remember that they aren't the only ones and that they aren't even a majority.

There are people in this world who grace us with their generosity of heart, impress us with their courage or just make us smile. Big gestures, small kindnesses.

There's the man who turned back to open and hold the door this morning when my hands were full; the greasy haired, skinny, leather-jacketed man I might have crossed the road to avoid if I'd come across him on a dark night but who smiled and spoke gently as I ducked under his arm.

The person who picked up a lost glove and put it on a nearby windowsill for the owner to come back and find.

The mand who looked after my grandfather as he was suffering a heart-attack, decades ago, and cared for him until the ambulance arrived.

The ladies who helped my grandmother the other year when she had a nasty fall in the street.

My cousin who was told she had a year to live; who turned down all treatment and spent the rest of her time l-i-v-i-n-g! Miss you girl!

The lady in my grandmother's sheltered accomodation who cooks for herself every day...and cooks enough to share around whoever most needs a meal that day. Whose grandchildren adore her and go with her to help weeding, planting or anything else someone may need done.

The stranger who smiles in the street.

The truck driver in the Canadian Rockies who stopped to help when I'd broken down on a hillside, in the middle of a forest, in the middle of no-where. Who said he'd report to the motorhome hire company when he got back to base and then make sure one of the other truckers heading back this way would let me know to reassure me it was done. Sure enough, an hour later, a truck slowed down on it's way past, the horn sounded and the driver frantically waved a thumbs-up as he went past. He checked up on me later through the CB radio with the tow-truck driver to make sure I'd been rescued ok.

My lovely, serene and beautiful aunt who has only a few months to live has also turned down painful and debilitating treatment in order to spend the time she has left enjoying the company of her husband, family and friends. No regrets she says, she's had a wonderful life and a wonderful marriage.

The couple who took a lonely traveller under their wing for a day, never having met her before.

The friend who listens.

Old people, young people, people near and people far away. People in my life now and people I used to know. There are far more kind, generous and friendly people, or just plain ok people than there are of the other kind. If that's so in my little world, why should it be otherwise elsewhere?

Look around you folks, can you see more good than bad? I hope so.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Benefit capping

We have families in this country with five or ten or more children but no wage earners, in massive houses in expensive areas living off benefits. The Government wants to crack down on this sort of thing by limiting benefits to £26,000 per annum. The church (Church of England) is opposing the move until such time as the Government agrees to leave child benefit out of the equation on the basis the benefit is for the children not the parents and they shouldn’t suffer.

This was the topic of conversation in the paper shop this morning. The local paper shop is a centre for deep philosophical discussion…and gossip…in many small towns around the country! Folk go in to buy their morning paper, spot the headlines and let off a head of steam before wandering out again. Sometimes, if the headlines hit a sore enough spot, the discussions spread over quite a few days.

The consensus of these bread-earners was that benefits should be limited even lower than £26,000, down to the minimum wage in fact. The thought was - why should they be working and keeping their family on far less than £26,000 and at the same time paying for others to have a better lifestyle and not work towards a penny of it? They most certainly didn’t have a burning urge to fund someone else’s outsize family!

I agree with them wholeheartedly. The point that children should not suffer for their parents is fair but how much of the money that goes in child support actually goes to the children? Are parents who are so irresponsible and selfish as to have that many children in the first place, the sort of people who can be trusted with the money needed to bring those children up? I know of what I speak, sadly I’ve seen situations with my own eyes where children are neglected while the parents smoke, drink, take drugs and completely fail to instil discipline or prepare them for a working life. The majority of these children grow to do the same themselves. The cycle needs to be broken.

Yes, I know not everyone claiming benefits is avoiding work, and no, I don’t want to prevent anyone who really needs help from getting it. But – the welfare system is intended as short-term help for people who find themselves in need through no fault of their own; it’s not meant to be a lifestyle choice, using children as money-cows.

Here’s a thought…why doesn’t the Government issue notice that with effect from 2013, child benefit will be limited to two children for any one mother and there will be no obligation on society to provide larger accommodation as well as capping benefits at £26,000? Anyone who has more than two children after that has only themselves to blame. Child benefit lasts up to age 16 so in 17 years time it will be down to a reasonable level and perhaps we’ll be on the way to a more responsible society?

Where does the church fit into this? Well, perhaps they could ease the burden by selling some of their huge assets and giving more practical help in supporting and re-educating the families so we can introduce the two-child limit now. Get out there and lead by example instead of sticking their noses into politics. It’s not universal but mostly the only time we hear from the church is for church-spire fundraisers and gathering clothing to send abroad. If they’re actually doing more then they’re being incredibly quiet about it.