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  • Mike and Helen

Joined at the Hip

You may not find it in your heart to love them all but these days, it pays to keep an eye on your neighbours. The climate crisis - perhaps more than anything else - has confronted us all with the recognition that, as a planet, we are ‘joined at the hip’ - for good or ill - and more and more often, it seems - for ill! The war on Ukraine is reinforcing that message loud and clear. Instability in the markets is pushing up prices - the prices of petrol at our pumps and wheat products in our supermarkets are rising dramatically. We are all affected.

Yes, we say, but we are not all responsible, are we?

If you don’t want to think about that heavy question and turn on the TV to watch the football, it won't be long before you come across the Russian owner of Chelsea football club, Roman Abramovich, who is hurriedly trying to bail out of his involvement there. The Premier League is bankrolled by other Russian oligarchs, emirates from the Middle East or autocrats from southern Asia who have made their billions on the backs of ordinary folk. It may be difficult for football fans not to recognise that their pleasure is paid for by some very shady characters.

If you can do without football in your life(!) then you might try a play or a visit to a museum or art gallery. Only a couple of weeks ago the Scottish ballet cut its links with BP, the latest in a long line of high profile arts organisations to have been sponsored by BP or other oil companies whose record on environmental concern is lamentable. You might want to visit an art gallery. But some galleries and exhibitions are now doing their best to disassociate themselves with heavy funding by the Sackler family who have a dark record in the pharmaceutical industry.

Organisations in which we have all been involved for years, institutions purveying all kinds of positive products - churches, governments, the Post Office, the BBC - one after another, they have all been found to have an influence for good alongside activities to be ashamed of. And if you try to hide behind a sense of national virtue, you do no better. Those who would want to retreat behind the white cliffs of Dover or the equivalent symbol in their own country are inevitably going to be disappointed. Try as we might, none of us can live an innocent life. None of us can find an untainted group to belong to. Honesty demands that we all recognise our involvement with or complicity in evil of one sort or another.

The world we live in is exceedingly complicated. And here’s the rub - none of us finds it easy to cope with that baffling level of complication. Naturally, we’d prefer to be able always to identify clearly who are ‘the good guys’ and ‘the bad guys’ and identify with them. But, if we’re honest, we know that information or insight into what’s really going on in so many areas of life is not available to most of us so to enable us to do that reliably.

So we have a choice. Either we can turn away from the complexity of the world and look for simple solutions summarised by pithy slogans touted by those we’ve decided are ‘good guys’. Or we can recognise that good and evil are very often inescapably intertwined. More than ever, wisdom and patience faith and a dash of humility are needed to come to terms with the complexity of the world around us. But perhaps we would find it all easier if we were to look in the mirror and acknowledge that complexity staring back at us!

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