The other night I watched the TV premiere of a good film called Love Happens. I really enjoyed it; it was a romantic drama about a self-help author called Burke Ryan (unfortunate name), who does courses helping people overcome their bereavements. He himself suffered the loss of his wife three years ago. He meets and begins a relationship with a florist, Eloise (Jennifer Anniston), and as Eloise finds out more about his personal life, she discovers that he still hasn’t got past his wife’s death, and in particular is letting himself become overwhelmed by guilt, and is failing to follow his own advice.
The film explores his personal life and his still-remaining sadness about his wife’s death, and how this is affected by his relationship with Eloise. Romantic films do sometimes get a bit a bit overly soppy, but this one manages not to be, while at the same time being moving and touching. It’s also actually quite thought-provoking, and even funny at times as well. Usually I find it harder to watch a film the whole way through at home than at the cinema (movie theater), but I was definitely hooked by this one, and I’d certainly recommend it.
Drastically changing the subject now, I’d also quite like to comment a bit on the 7/7 (London subway and bus bombings) inquests. Briefly, I will say that, whoever else may be to blame, if the government hadn’t been letting in every Islamist extremist who wanted to visit here – they didn’t even bother to pass a law against attendance at terrorist training camps until 2006 – the 7/7 attacks would probably have never happened, or at least it would have been much harder for them to take place.
But what I find quite shocking and thought-provoking is an news article I read in the Telegraph today, saying that an off-duty doctor told the inquest that some, if only a few, passengers who were lead to safety after the attacks, actually stopped for the passengers who were dying, and in some cases, dead. But they weren’t stopping to help these people, who were being tended by the doctor and were waiting for rescuers; instead, they stopped to take photographs.
The doctor told the inquest that she had stopped to try and help a 24-year-old female passenger who had been stuck underneath a pole – for which she was rightly commended by the judges – but while they were waiting for several hours, no-one at all stopped except to take photos.
To be sure, the doctor did say that there wasn’t much that could be done to help, but it still made me wonder about our sense of morality. It reminded me of an article I read in the NewScientist that takes a slightly more positive view on human morality, citing studies that suggest that even babies as young as three months old tend to like “good guys” who help people up hills, more than “bad guys” who push them down the hill. But the article goes on to say that this doesn’t explain the entire scope of human kindness, as babies prefer the familiar, and so grow up, in many cases, being prejudiced against unfamiliar languages, beliefs and skin colours (subject to cultural influence), and, in almost all cases, not having a desire to help strangers.
So you and I would like to think that we would have helped, but in all honesty, if we really were in that situation, I have some doubt about it. I think this also explains how, when we see a charity donation box, we often just spend our money on a sandwich for ourselves instead. There’s no voice inside us really insisting that we help starving, dying children – because they’re strangers. It’s sad, really.
Finally, I’d like to express my pleasant surprise at the German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s admittance that multiculturalism in Germany has been an utter failure, and has encouraged immigrants to live separate from the rest of society, not to adapt to the local culture, and to not even learn the language. Time will tell whether she is being honest and sincere, or are just trying to gain more votes from people who are fed up with politicians. But still, in any case, it’s so refreshing to hear of a politician in Europe actually tackling the issue of integration and multiculturalism head on, rather than simply dismissing such concerns as racist.
So even though this may or may not be a purely cosmetic tactic to gain votes, and even though they’re still, as far as I can gather, not admitting that the growth of radical Islamism within their own borders is the one thing, more than anything else, that you can blame multiculturalists for – I think that the words of Merkel should now be an example to politicians across Europe, including Britain. Apart from anything else, if the British government doesn’t start listening to what people actually want, racist, far-right parties like the British National Party will triumph. In the 2010 general election, the BNP gained nearly 2% of the vote, which was almost three times the votes they got in 2005. Even the populist (I use that word as a compliment) but more mainstream UKIP (UK Independence Party) aren’t really giving the issue of integration as much priority as immigration (although they are, needless to say, talking about the important issue of the cost and lack of democracy of the EU, far more than the established parties are).
And just saying that immigrants should leran the language isn’t really enough. The 7/7 bombers were all well-educated and seemingly well-integrated English speakers – one of them was even a British convert to Islam. Adapting to British culture and rubbing along with everyone else regardless of race or religion, takes more than just learning the language. Above all, it takes for us to be more patriotic, to define what makes us British, and to adopt a belief that people of all races and religions are British if they integrate and share the same basic core values. And there’s something that the likes of the BNP would not want us to do.
I was going to write quite a lot about the spending review, but this blog post’s long enough anyway. I will briefly say that the cuts should be more fairly weighed, but we do need substantial cuts in order to cut the deficit. We also need to find ways to create more jobs, and to lower taxes for everyone – rich and poor – to incentivise them to get off benefits and start paying more into the economy. And the job cuts should be happening at a slower rate, otherwise we’ll have far too many people still on benefits, which will, at best, slow progress, and at worst, bring us into a double-dip recession. Also, this is just another reason why we need to get out of the European Union. George Osbourne wants to cut £81 billion of public expenditure over the next five years; over the same period, we’ll be paying the EU £82 billion.
Thanks for reading. Please feel free to leave any comments you wish to make.