Notre Dame

Notre Dame Donors & Poverty Consciousness

Every year, wealthy philanthropists donate billions to charities, including environmental and agricultural charities. The Forbes list of 50 top US donors will tell you who some of them are and who received the money. Take a look at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the people who benefit from their donations for just one example out of those 50, and that’s just the US donors.

However, this fact has been overlooked by lots of people on social media who, since the donations started to pour in to pay for the restoration of Notre Dame, are concerned, upset, and even angry that a cathedral should received such immediate financial support when there are still problems like Climate Change, poverty, and hunger to solve.

They question why an ‘icon to imagined reality‘ should receive these funds when there are more worthy causes. The memes talk of tears for a burnt cathedral but ‘no one cares‘ about destruction of rain forests.

Notre Dame

In the time it’s taken to write this post several more memes and comments have appeared in Facebook. The theme is the same in each of them

  • Why choose old churches when oceans are filled with plastic?
  • Why restore buildings when trees are being cut down?
  • Why get upset over this building when a species goes extinct each day?
  • Why don’t the rich give more to environmental emergencies?

The answer of course is that they are all important but wealthy people have the free will to send their money to those places they choose, even if you think they’ve got their priorities wrong.

And if you do you a little research you’ll find that wealthy philanthropists do give money to environmental charities but it’s so commonplace that it doesn’t make any headlines.

Poverty Consciousness

The sentimental posts and articles now appearing smack of the politics of envy and poverty consciousness – the idea that that there’s only a finite amount of wealth so people shouldn’t spend it on restoring cathedrals.

Some people want to take (by taxation or by state seizure) the wealth that a few have generated and spread it around to ‘make things more fair’ for those who have less.

The fact that many of these rich people are wealth generators responsible for creating jobs (and thereby the wealth of others) and boosting economies is not seen as significant.

The millions they pay in tax and the philanthropy they demonstrate seems to be unimportant.

Obviously, some people become rich using unethical business practices or outright criminality, but such lack of integrity or absence of any moral compass is not confined to the rich. You’ll find examples of such people at all levels of wealth and society.

Rain Forest

Attitudes To Money

Our whole attitude to money belies this contradiction of, one the one hand, dreaming of lottery wins, making more money by hard work and enterprise, and on the other, envying those who’ve ‘made it’ and who can afford all the trappings of wealth.

Wealth, like love, is infinite. You can generate more or be stuck in the delusion that there’s only so much to go around, and on that path you end up envying and hating the rich for having more than others.

So, you keep feeding the wolf than envies and hates, and that’s the wolf that grows stronger.

You don’t have to like them personally or agree with the politics or lifestyles of the rich but you can save yourself from wasting your time, attention, and energy by questioning their choices when they want to give away some of their wealth.

Instead, try spending that precious time, attention, and energy on activities that might increase your own wealth. Then one day you might be able to step forward and hand over a cheque for £100 million to the fund or cause that grabs at your heart.

If the owners of Louis Vuitton or Gucci or anyone else want to give their money to help pay for the restoration of Notre Dame, a symbol of France’s cultural and religious heritage, then good luck to them.

If Notre Dame is of no consequence to you or worse, you see it as a symbol of something corrupt and depraved, then maybe it’s time to take a look inside yourself and ask if what you see outside is a mirror of what you feel inside.

poverty consciousness
How Trump Won And The UK Voted For Brexit

How Trump Won And The UK Voted For Brexit

On both sides of the Atlantic millions of people have been asking the question, “How did this happen?  Why did we lose?”.

How they laughed when it was first announced that Trump might run for President.  How they scoffed at the very idea the the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland might one day leave the European Union.

Well, Trump is in now in the White House and the Brexit juggernaut is rolling, albeit around some obstacles put in its path.  The causes for both events will no doubt be debated for a long while yet but there are already some reasons that now seem undeniable.

How Trump Won

Voter Apathy and Complacency?

  • Voter apathy.  No matter how important the vote there are always too many people who find something better to do than to put a cross on a piece of paper.  It seems it’s just too much effort for millions.
  • Voter complacency.  Trump couldn’t possibly win and Clinton is dead cert.  Only a fool would vote for Brexit.  I’m not going to vote because there’s no point when things are so certain.

A quick google reveals that about 63 million Americans voted for Trump but over 90 million didn’t vote at all.  As they say over there, go figure.

I wonder what percentage of those who didn’t vote were on the Women’s Marches or have spent many hours on social media bemoaning the fate of their respective countries.

Ignorance and Prejudice

Another reason often cited as the cause of these so called catastrophes is varying degrees on ignorance, gullibility, and bigotry among those who voted to leave the EU or put Trump in the White House.

I would be the first to agree that there are some pretty dim people out there but to suggest that tens of millions of people are unable to make rational decision for themselves and their families, having weighed up all the arguments for and against, is wildly inaccurate and very condescending.

After the Brexit referendum some people went as far as suggesting that certain people shouldn’t be allowed to vote at all.  They suggested that some voters were either too old to make decisions that would have long term effects or that they were too stupid to know what’s good for them.  This patronising viewpoint is one often heard uttered by the Eurocrats.  Leave it to the experts, they know what’s best for us, eh boys?

Racism and Xenophobia

This is another favourite excuse used by many to explain who things have turned out as they have done.  It doesn’t occur to them that many immigrants and descendants of immigrants voted to leave the EU for reasons they can explain perfectly well for themselves.

If a white person said what is said on these clips people would be quick to whip out the tired old excuses of racism and xenophobia. The truth is that they believe that while immigration has benefits you can have too much of a good thing, and that stricter controls and stronger entry requirements isn’t at all xenophobic but just sensible governance:

In this next clip we see an American gentleman, “Big Joe” who is perfectly capable of making his point among crowds of people who were protesting the day after Trump’s inauguration.

One woman shouts, “You’re on a bicycle and you’re oblivious!” – not sure what’s wrong with being on a bicycle.  Big Joe replies, “Political Correctness is un-American!”

I urge you to watch it to the end as the debate becomes a bit more articulate as it goes on.

Big Joe Answers Questions at Women’s March

Negative Outcomes

Take your pick. I’m sure there will be plenty to choose from.  The worst so far is the fact that Trump has signed the executive order to push ahead with the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Positive Outcomes

Imagine if Clinton were now in the White House and Britain had voted to remain in the EU.  What would change?  I would bet very little, except perhaps that Hillary would probably have to keep Bill on a tight leash:

Things would grind on just as they had before with no major problems resolved and things getting progressively worse for many.

Instead, we are witnessing a big rush of energy entering the political world and things are turning upside down.  Those on the Left who have always seen themselves as champions of freedom and democracy are becoming more and more censorial and authoritarian.

Meanwhile, more people are turning to the Right as they lose faith in the liberal and centre politicians who have failed to listen to their concerns and grievances and who have brought in changes that have transformed their communities and countries without consultation nor consent.

This energy is shaking things up.  It’s removing some of that smug complacency (from both voters and politicians) and reminding us all that our votes do make a difference.

It’s reminding us that our democracy is a precious thing, and that we should never again leave it to others to make decisions for us.

Demonstration and Protest

By all means make your voices heard but don’t smash windows and burn cars.  Burning the limousine belonging to a Muslim immigrant doesn’t do your cause any favours.  Nor does bullying and intimidating Trump supporters simply because you disagree with their points of view.

Is a hijab an appropriate symbol to use in the Women’s March of January 22nd?  Again, depends on your point of view. If you’re one of the organisers bemoaning the fact that 22 states in the US don’t allow Sharia law then it’s probably part of your agenda.

If on the other hand you feel the way this woman does, then it is not appropriate:

It breaks my heart, as someone who is forced to wear this atrocity since the age of 11 (I am 25 now), to see them celebrating the tool of my oppression. Being a hijabi has denied me so many rights, I feel offended right now. I don’t see how this is standing up for minorities. I am a full grown woman who lives a submissive life because she can’t afford to be independent, and has to do things she doesn’t approve of so that she can have something to eat. My parents have threatened repeatedly to throw me on the streets if I ever take it off. Millions of girls are denied their basic rights because of the hijab mentality. Why aren’t you standing up for them?”