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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Monday, November 29, 2004
    The Rough Guide to a Better World

    It's really only the poor that die earliest. They're too weak, mute, unseen and powerless to be noticed. We only properly take a reluctant heed when they begin to die in such numbers it would be impossible for us to ignore them. There then sets in a sort of tiresome acceptance that the pathetic whimperings and low moans of the soon-to-be dead should be addressed in some manner.

    We don't in general die of our corruption, or our AIDS or Malaria or other illnesses, or our trade rules, or starvation, or our political instability, or our debt burdens, or our summer droughts. They do. They die from all of the above, both ours and their own. The euphemism for this mass premature dying is "lack of development". That means if only they had health systems and educational facilities and basic farming mechanisms allowing countries to feed themselves and disinterested bureaucratic structures to implement a state under the rule of law, civic minded and incorruptible political leadership listening to the organs of civil society like the unions, free press, churches and chambers of commerce under "good governance", and if those same people could be representative of the wishes of the people and if they could develop appropriate industries where they could trade with "Us" on equal terms; and if pigs could fly...

    Bob Geldof, from The Rough Guide to a Better World, which you can pick up at Post Office counters across the land. It helped me bide my time today in the long queue between soft-porn daily papers and tinned foods at Norris Green PO. It's the government's way of encouraging us to make more radical choices and, indeed, to challenge the government about the way we live towards others. Has campaigning ideas, volunteering ideas, lifestyle ideas, insight and critique. As such it seems pretty unique. And it's been put together by my Greenbelt friends Malcolm and Martin, movers also in A Year of Living Generously, which has some good Christmas ideas online this week.