Archive for January, 2019

comment Sensationalism is not News.

January 27, 2019

Sensational headlines seem to be required by all newspapers. It is thought that the more sensational the message, the better. Many times, an individual who has broken the law is rightly reported and their subsequent punishment is also rightly detailed. However, it seems that lately it is more than reporting the facts that is required. The individuals and their misdemeanours are sensationalised. They are portrayed as the most wicked people in the world acting grossly against others. The plan is probably to whip up people’s feelings and opinions so that they will be driven to write in to the newspaper to express their venom. A cycle of who can destroy the individuals’ lives with vindictive words is generated and the frenzy is intensified as the competition increases.

Is this the behaviour of a civilised society? I think not. It is time the media realized that there is a difference between reporting the facts and stirring up the emotions with exaggerated, in-your-face accusations. It has been reported that Tesco’s, for example, is making changes to its organization. The headlines scream that thousands of jobs could be lost. The word to focus on here, is ‘could’. While the statement may eventually prove to be true, by saying jobs could be lost confirms that the reporter does not really know for a fact that this will happen. The reporter is expressing an opinion, not giving us the detail. In addition, this opinion can have devastating effects. It is common knowledge that in business, if a certain firm is denigrated by the media, shares in the business will fall, people will avoid using it and more than likely, they will bite the dust. It is almost as if we, as a people, revel in sneering at the fallen.  More useful would be a plain description of the facts with additional background information about how such events come about,  or the circumstances that make it possible for them to happen, what can be done to stop them and the current statistics relating to such actions.

Further to this, while we wait for new information in ‘the News’, time and again, the same information is repeated, not once but twice or even over a number of days. While some of us appreciate a different slant on the same material, repeating exactly what had been said before becomes tiresome and it is definitely not ‘news’. So much is happening around us: people are born, have successes or failures, get married, or divorced, die – yet it only appears that only one or two people have had anything happen to them at all and that is just because they are famous.

Let’s stop the sensationalism and let’s have some real news.

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Comment: Why are there two kinds of charity?

January 20, 2019

Once upon a time the word ‘charity’ meant one thing: helping others who are needy. Now there seems to be two kinds of charity: one genuine one when we help disadvantaged people and another that is no more than an extension of the corporate businesses that seem to be saturated with money with very little of it reaching those who really need it.

A newspaper recently contained an article which suggested if we wish to be happy we should help someone else. The reward we get from feeling as if we have done some good is reward enough and there are many people who will vouch for this.

Then there are the people and the businesses that claim to be charitable but it seems, in the eyes of the receivers, they fall short of the mark. Some people and businesses do charity to make themselves important in the eyes of others, rather than to offer real help to those who need it..

One local remembers a volunteer in a hospital. The local was stuck in the place for some time. Her father in another country far away was dying. She was anxious to be able to speak to him, but there were no phones in the ward and she had no mobile phone. When the volunteer asked what she could do, the local asked if the volunteer could get a voice recorder so that the local could send a message to her father so that he could at least hear her voice. The local would willingly pay all costs. The volunteer decided that that was not her job. How helpful is that?

Another example was the voluntary organization that offers help to people in need. A local needed someone from this organization to visit him when he got home from hospital after having had a serious operation. The local was told by the allocated person from the organization that she was going away on holiday so she couldn’t come. The patient wondered why the prospective visitor did not go back to the organization to get someone else to come instead. Once again it seems it ‘was not her job’.

The final crunch comes when individuals or small newly-formed organizations make legitimate requests for funds from large charitable organizations. More times than not their requests are refused, not because they do not need help, but because they do not fit the required criteria which often includes providing half the money first, or proving that their request is justified with facts and statistics that only the organization has.

It is time we were all more charitable in the true sense of the word.

 

Let’s face it, age comes to us all.

January 12, 2019

If we were to believe the newspapers and magazines these days, especially after the New Year, we would believe that all we had to do was to eat the right things, exercise and use our brains and we would be immortal.

Sad to say, we all know that this is not true. No one is immortal; age comes to all of us. Even Andy Murray, the star of Wimbledon, has had to admit that his body is aging and that he would be wise to stop punishing himself with high powered tennis matches that cause him hip pain. It is time for him to face up to his physical limitations and enjoy the life he has with his family.

This is something that could benefit us all. No matter how much we exercise, diet and use our brains, we cannot stop the process of aging. Instead of exhorting us to change our lives drastically, we should be encouraged to accept our bodies as they are.

We should all take note of the twinges that we feel as we age and react only to these. If our back starts to trouble us, then and only then, should we start to take measures to alleviate the symptoms. If people do not do the exercises that they have been given by their physiotherapists as part of their therapy for alleviating back pain, they know the pain will only get worse. With the right exercises, back pain can be managed and sufferers can live with the symptoms, continue to walk upright and enjoy a full life for a very long time. I know someone who has managed to do this for over twenty years.

Then, of course, we can all name people who have taken on board all the suggestions newspapers and magazines have thrown at them and have died, some a very premature death. I witnessed a close friend of mine frantically doing all he crosswords he could on a daily basis but it made no difference; he still succumbed to dementia at a very early age.

What we should all do is to accept that our bodies will let us down, and that we can maintain a happy, healthy lifestyle that we can enjoy if we address our specific problems, not try to follow some stringent routine a stranger has suggested. If we love a Mediterranean diet, learning a new language and exercising, then we should do these things, but if we hate them, we should try a little but not give up on what we most enjoy.

Life is to be lived and enjoyed. It should never be a test of endurance and suffering.

It is time to focus on what is really needed.  

January 5, 2019

We live in a back to front society. In so many cases those in power think of an outcome first and ignore the impact caused when they push forward their bright ideas. Time and again, the powers that be react with knee-jerk actions that we all know will have no staying power, nor achieve what is intended. It seems more important for our politicians to be seen to be doing something, rather than doing what is needed even though it may upset their friends in high places.

I agree that these are sweeping statements that do not apply to every situation. However, many of us will agree there is some credence for this belief.

It has been reported recently that an urgent review has been ordered to close a loophole that is allowing a killer claim legal aid while on the run. Any thoughtful governing body when first setting up the conditions for applying for legal aid should have thought of this first, surely.

It has also been reported that the UK is handing over £1.5 billion to some of the world’s most corrupt countries. We have been assured that these sweeteners are needed for the people in these countries are suffering. However, there is also a well-known phrase – advising us not to cast our ‘pearls before swine.’ Giving money to some corrupt governments means that the well-intentioned funds do not go to the poor, but to the already well-heeled people in power. It is time to call their bluff. Our government should offer to hand it over to the people in the country directly in the form of food, clothing and water and sewage systems, cutting through the bureaucracy that normally lets the money disappear. After all, if a government is not corrupt, it would welcome this offer gladly.

It is regularly reported that our government does not have enough money to support our defence, health or educational systems. If the government has billions to give to other countries surely it must have first satisfied itself that it HAS allocated enough funds to keep its own citizens safe and healthy?

Time and again it is reported that people still have to sleep on our streets and beg for a living in our country. Often a council will have to pay private landlords over the odds to house some of the neediest people. Why not house these people in the properties known to have been empty for years? If a property owner will not or cannot renovate such properties, why don’t councils do so and arrange for the owners to pay back the costs of renovation?

It is time our government cut through its waffle and developed the backbone needed to focus on what really should be done.