For generations we have observed the differences between the ‘haves and the have-nots’ in our society. Recently we are witnessing the ever increasing gap between the working salaries in the UK having risen by 300% since 1980 bringing it to an average of £25,000 while executive pay has soared to over 4,000%. The chief executive of Barclays Bank earned £4,365,636 just last year. We heard that some veterans of the WRVS quit in disgust when they learned that their boss’s salary was in the range of £150,000 and they were being asked to cut costs when the majority worked as volunteers.
Many of the front benches in our government are purported to be millionaires. How can they be on a par with us the public? How can they possibly know what it is like to be looking into a bleak future? When the Prime minister says “I get it” I think he is saying he understands but when his food and energy bills rise will he even notice? Our Prime Minister’s attempts to boost spirits by telling us “we are all in it together” makes me howl and this from someone who advised parents to take their children to work on the day of the strike. Police, doctors, bus drivers, supermarket staff, office workers all taking their children to work, I don’t think so. Out of touch or what? In terms of living in the real world can they truly say they know what the average working class family have to contend with? Do have they worry about finding the money for new school uniforms each year, new shoes for the children, rising food prices and ever increasing heating costs? I doubt it.
Believe me; I am not getting at any particular party policy after all there doesn’t seem much to choose between them. What do you call a group of Oxford and Cambridge graduates who get together in the search for power? Elitist! Well folks this is the shadow cabinet, they fare no better than the front benches. How can they connect to the average member of public, they try to woo us by spouting tired expressions in the hope that we will be fooled into believing they care.
We can see that the cuts affect the poor rather than the rich? Capitalism seems to be making the rich richer and the poor poorer, not good in this modern age? When will the public turn? Are we moving backwards to where pre and post war children were truly in poverty? When I talk of my childhood in the forties, some would have called us ‘rag arsed’ because of the patches and darning of our clothes, ‘second hand’ or ‘hand-me-downs’ was the norm. Our parents were adept at spinning out what bit they had, making a meal from a small amount, looking for cheap cuts of meat and cooking warm filling meals which were high in carbohydrates. Of course during the days of rationing many of us kids did go hungry but poverty is relative to the time.
It seems to me that we are society seeking materialism? When we hear parents repeatedly ask their children ‘what do you want?’ ‘Where would you like to go?’ and ‘What do you want to wear?’ A constant round of negotiation which means the family fit around the child rather than the child fitting in to the family. A family on a television program ‘Wanted Down Under’ decided that they wouldn’t emigrate to Australia because there fourteen years old daughter had a boyfriend back home and didn’t want to go, even though the rest of the family did want to. What does that teach a child?
Are we now seeking approval, protection and admiration when maybe we should be thinking of how can we give love rather than will you love me? Recently the government asked the question of the public ‘Are you happy?’ and surprisingly a high percentage said yes, but is happiness equated to whether we eat well, drink well, go on good holidays and mostly avoid boredom. Has progress helped us to be happier or has it promoted a society that needs outside stimuli to prevent boredom.
Of course we all like to think we hold good clear moral standards and want to give to the less able, less well off members of society but I also think we are in danger of becoming an ever increasing selfish society? We are more materialistic than magnanimous; more introspective than altruistic. There has been a change in family values and we can see this when many elderly spent Christmas alone and unseen by family members. Have we stopped caring about each other? Should we be begging from the rich to look after those in need as they do on ‘Children in Need’ and ‘Red Nose Day? Indeed, shouldn’t society be looking after its own? We seem to have forgotten how to.
I think that decent values start at the top with the government which is supposed to look after its people’s welfare rather than its own. Banks were once there to advise and assist us with how to deal with money, now it seems as if they want to do us out of it and make it work for themselves. Big businesses appear to have lost the code of ethics when it comes to making a profit or selling quality goods. We the public need to look at our part in this lack of principle, we are force fed tat on the television in regards advertising and we respond by buying toys and foods which are in the main unhealthy. We have to ask to what extent does the need for material things control us?
What happened to the concept ‘There but for the grace of God go I’ when we see someone homeless or helpless? What about ‘Love thy neighbour as thy self’ when we know there is someone elderly and in need down the street. I am not religious but perhaps these phrases could act as a mantra for change. Maybe we have to become less selfish and more self less?