I'm an Unashamed Idealist
That was what I had on one of my pin badges when I was back in Blighty. I wish I had it here and then I could explain to Our Kid what it meant and what it still means to me. Our Kid has just started his own collection of badges.
I learnt long ago that slogans and symbols on badges had an awesome power. Back in 1968, a special year
, on March 17th
I was in Grosvenor Square, London, for the anti-Vietnam War demonstration that had wended its way from Trafalgar Square. I was wearing a large multi-coloured badge on my lapel.
I was then a primary school teacher with a class of forty 9-10 year olds (Grade 6) and that week I had confiscated an enormous pin badge denoting that I was a cohort of Captain Scarlet
. (Youngsters should not assume that I have any knowledge of the new-ish series, Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet
. Nope, I'm more in tune with Our Kid's fave, Pokémon
Anyway, there I was flaunting my affiliation and loads of folk came up to me, obviously jealous, and they'd ask me," Cor, wot group d'you belong to then?"
I'd casually inform them that I was a Capt. Scarlet Cohort, and not a member of the International Marxist Group
nor a Socialist Worker
, nor indeed, any of those chanting "Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh" or "Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kooks did you kill today?"
"Wow, man," they'd say, and I carried on.
This demo ended up being a violent affair as mounted police cleared the area of we hippies. My main claim to fame came here on this day: the police horse that swept me away had outflanked Mick Jagger with, presumably, Marianne Faithfull as well.
And I failed to get their autographs.
All of which is a clumsy preambling introduction to a fascinating document published by the World Federation of United Nations Associations
, called the State of the Future - 2007
. The following is taken from the Executive Summary.)
It has been considered ridiculous to try and achieve health and security for all people. Equally ridiculous today is thinking that one day an individual acting alone will not be able to create and use a weapon of mass destruction or that there will not be serious pandemics as we crowd more people and animal habitats into urban concentrations while easy transborder travel exists and biodiversity is diminishing.
The idealism of the welfare of one being the welfare of all could become a pragmatic long-range approach to countering terrorism, keeping airports open, and preventing destructive mass migrations and other potential threats to human security. Ridiculing idealism is shortsighted, but idealism without the rigors of pessimism is misleading. We need very hardheaded idealists who can look into the worse
(sic) and best of humanity and can create and implement strategies of success.
Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. It seems a shame that I have to keep on keeping on.
Amongst the highlights of the report
:The 225 richest people on the planet now earn the same as the poorest 2.7bn, equivalent to 40% of humankind, the report finds.
(That's one billionaire to every 100 million people. Why?)And although democracy is on the rise, with nearly half the world's population now living in democratic systems, it is in danger of being demolished by a culture of bribery. Contrary to the stereotype of the banana republic, only a minority of the political bribes paid each year goes to public officials in the developing world. The report published last week finds "the vast majority of bribes are paid to people in richer countries" where decision taking is "vulnerable to vast amounts of money".
Much of the income, more than $520bn, that flows through the world's black economy comes from counterfeiting and piracy. The drug trade is the second biggest earner, with an estimated $320bn in takings. Human trafficking is a small industry by comparison, worth under $44bn but arguably the most pernicious.
According to the UN, up to 27 million people are now held in slavery, far more than at the peak of the African slave trade. The majority of the victims this time are Asian women.
Again, ho hum.