There are a great many quotes I’d like to share with you this morning…
‘A society will be judged on how it treats its weakest members’ – Pope John Paul II
‘…the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped.’ – Hubert H. Humphrey
‘Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members’ .- Pearl S. Buck
‘The measure of a society is found in how they treat their weakest and most helpless citizens. As Americans, we are blessed with circumstances that protect our human rights and our religious freedom, but for many people around the world, deprivation and persecution have become a way of life.’ – James Earl “Jimmy” Carter, Jr.
There are lessons to be learned here, lessons that the current incumbents, both in 10 Downing Street and in the White House – ought to heed. The recent push-back against the Tories in this country was a message – people are fed up with austerity, which is failing the most vulnerable, whilst the richest get richer. The NHS remains underfunded and this is actually putting lives at risk – the police force has faced cuts that have directly impacted their ability to do their jobs, and fire-fighters have voiced similar concerns, brought into sharp focus by the tragic Grenfell fire the other day. The cuts to these services inevitably impact the poorer members of society (the rich can, after all, afford private healthcare, and can provide their homes with sophisticated security systems in relatively safe areas), yet we are led to believe austerity is working and helping us toward a better future.
We have learned that the current Tory government (and for that matter, Tony Blair’s Labour government) wanted to strip back ‘red tape’, but some of those regulations actually involved safety inspections and measures to provide security. The consequences of this have been laid bare with the Grenfell tragedy, and it is once again the poorer members of society who have paid the price. In other parts of the world austerity hasn’t proven needed – yet the Tories have clung to it, despite the evidence of elsewhere. Their disconnect from the average person is striking and terrifying, but as the election showed, people are starting to reject their message. As financing for education faces a looming crisis, and as the rich/poor divide continues to grow, we must ask ourselves – what sort of society do we want to be? One that caters only to the wealthy and to corporates, or one that actually cares about its people?