Pots and Kettles
Nowadays, of course, both cooking pots and kettles gleam on the kitchen shelf and their contents are cooked or heated by gas or electricity. This wasn’t always the case. I can remember a time, in the 1920s and ‘30s, when much cooking and water heating was carried out over a coal fire or on a coal fired cooking range. It didn’t take long for both saucepans and kettles to acquire a black, sooty coating. Hence came the expression ‘the pot calling the kettle black’ when a critic of someone else’s behaviour showed the same defect as the subject of his (or her) criticism.
It was a thought that must have recently been in the minds of a great many people with memories as long as mine. Our Prime Minister, Mr David Cameron, has been revealed as the head of a government that has approved the export of arms and military equipment to the Russians, shortly after he had publicly criticised the French for honouring a contract for providing the Russians with battleships. The embargo had been imposed because of Russian support, and alleged supply of arms, to the pro-Russian separatist rebels in
It could, in fact, be argued that ‘our offence’ was rather more serious than that of the French. I don’t think any one seriously imagines that the pro-Russian rebels have any ambition to acquire a navy, whereas they most certainly can use rifles, missile parts and other military equipment that we have been sending to
Russia. I don’t find the excuse that rifles can be used for hunting and that some of
the other equipment was to be sold on to the Brazilian Navy, very convincing. Is
it, I wonder, quite OK to supply arms to the Kiev government? I reckon that those tanks that we see the
rebels using don’t come from Russia
but have either been captured, or acquired as a result of the defection to the rebels of some
of the government’s forces.
The fact is that no-one can be certain of the actual use to which exported arms may be put. I don’t suppose that when the French sold exocet missiles to the Argentines, they imagined for one moment that the Argentines would use them to sink British warships engaged in the liberation of the
I have little doubt that Colonel Gaddafi used weapons and ammunition
that we had sold to him against us, when we helped Libyan rebels to overthrow his government. Some of the weapons used by the Taliban to
kill ‘our boys’ in Afghanistan
were undoubtedly provided clandestinely by ‘the west’ to help their
grandfathers kill Russians! We have also
sold weaponry to such autocracies as Saudi Arabia
some of which, I have little doubt, have found their way into the hands of ISIS and Al
Qaeda. I hope too, that the governments of both the USA
and the UK have recently felt just a
little uneasy about the use of weaponry that we have sold to Israel.
The manufacture and sale of weapons of war is an evil comparable with the slave trade. It thrives on international discord and those who hold shares in the companies involved grow wealthy on the death and maiming of their fellow men and women; on violent death, the destruction of homes, and the creation of innocent and helpless refugees.
A world-wide ban on the manufacture and sale of weapons of war would be a positive answer to our prayer, ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven’.
Two young heroines!
At a time when the news seemed to be going from bad to even worse, with three air liners downed in a week, an Israeli armed incursion into Gaza with the shelling of a United Nations school used as a shelter for refugees, and a total of some 1,000, mostly civilian, Palestinian dead, on 24th July there came some really good news on a BBC news bulletin.. Meriem Ibrahim had been allowed to leave North Sudan and, with her husband and two children and accompanied by an Italian government minister, had flown toSadly there was no confirmation of this the next day and I very much fear that it may be yet another example of the truth of the cynical comment that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is!
where she had met the Pope who had commended her faithfulness and courage.
Blog readers will recall that Meriem Ibrahim was the young Sudanese mother who was sentenced to being flogged followed by hanging for allegedly converting from Islam to Christianity and for marrying a Christian - which, since a Muslim woman is forbidden by Sharia law from making such a marriage, was regarded as adultery! She could have escaped those penalties had she abandoned her Christian faith for Islam – but that she resolutely refused to do. She gave birth to a daughter while shackled to the floor of her prison cell.
World-wide protests resulted in her being freed but then at Khartoum airport where she, her husband and her two children were about to depart for her husband’s home in the USA, they were prevented from departing on the pretext that her passport was invalid – and in North Sudan, so it seems, she remains.
No less deserving, but more fortunate, is Malala Yousafazai the teenage Muslim girl from
who was shot and left for dead by the Taliban for the crime of attending school
and promoting education for other girls.
At death’s door, she was flown to Britain for urgent surgery and,
almost miraculously, has been restored to health. However Malala isn’t one to seek safety from
further Taliban activity in obscurity..
She has inspired others to campaign, and is campaigning herself, for
education for girls throughout the world and has recently been to Nigeria where
she urged the President to redouble his government’s efforts to find and
liberate the teenage girls who have been abducted by jihadist extremists and
threatened with slavery or a forced marriage.
A sad, bad world has reason to be thankful that there are young women of the calibre of Meriem and Malala! I wish I could claim to have, or ever to have had, their faith and their courage. The thousands of us, and the governments, who rescued Meriem from a cruel and totally unjust punishment must again urge the North Sudan government to allow her to return home.
I have just read in the ‘Church Times’ that Meriem and her family have taken refuge in the
States Embassy in . Well, at least they’ll be safe there until
the North Sudan government can be persuaded, or coerced, into allowing them all
to travel to the Khartoum . USA
One of my most horrifying nightmares is of being trapped in a totally paralysed body, praying for death, but being incapable of doing anything about it; incapable in fact of doing anything at all.
It might have been thought that that recurring bad dream would make me a keen supporter of the ‘assisted suicide’ bill that was recently debated in the House of Lords. It wouldn’t have helped 'the me' of my nightmare in the least!. No doctor would have been able to declare that I had six months or less to live, or that I had a necessarily terminal illness. Nor, I think, would it have been possible for me to give the informed consent required by the bill.
I don’t think it possible to solve this problem by means of legislation. The present situation is, I believe, that it remains a criminal act to assist a suicide – but that the Public Prosecutor does not press charges if he or she is persuaded that the person giving the assistance was acting out of love and did not have some ulterior motive. That is probably the best that we shall get. If the Public Prosecutor can’t make up his mind then a jury can decide.
After sixty years of marriage my wife’s life came to an end eight years ago, in her sleep in her own bed at home, and after several days of unconsciousness. I do not believe that she suffered any pain. I can’t say with absolute certainty what I would have done had she been suffering unbearable pain that our doctor was unable to alleviate, and had begged me to help her end her life. I hope that I would have agreed and tried to do so. One thing I do know. The possibility of my being prosecuted for manslaughter or even murder would not have had the very least influence on my decision! I doubt if I would have given it a moment's thought.