I don’t read Newspapers any more and I rarely see or listen to the news. Some may think this to be a bit strange and that one should, at least, keep up with world events. I make no apologies. I just can’t do it any more. I feel as if the world I grew up in is spiralling out of control. I have to put up the shutters in this way to be able to live in this world. What troubles me is that there are no standards of decent behaviour or respect, and there is a general feeling of apathy that permeates our society. Everything seems to be the wrong way round. We seem to value what is valueless and discard what is good. Where and when did it all go wrong?
I can remember a time when if a murder was committed it would make the front pages of the Nationals for days. For an example of this one has only to look back to the James Henratty case because for almost a week it was front page news. It isn’t enough now to just commit murder; to get a banner headline it must include some other horrendous detail such as cutting up the body or setting fire to it. Now murder is so commonplace it hardly warrants a place on the front page and today the Henratty case would probably only manage to get a headline on the inside pages of a newspaper.
Something else that is becoming horrendously more common is that houses are being set alight with people including children and babies inside. Sometimes, even, a person is set alight or acid is thrown in someone’s face…what kind of person does that? And how is it the law seems to allow such people to walk among us because more often than not the perpetrators of these heinous crimes have been in trouble before and indeed have shown a dangerous tendency to violence. There is now so much cruelty in the world that we have become de-sensitised to it.
Moving on to the Law I thought its purpose was to protect us, the general public, from evil doers and to see that base criminals are locked up if not to punish then at least to protect the public from them until they have been, seemingly at least, rehabilitated and show some kind of remorse. Wrong! It seems the criminal’s rights must always be protected whilst victims appear to have no rights. I remember a case, quite a long time ago now; thieves broke into the house of a vicar. The vicar’s daughter was raped and the vicar and his son in law were beaten about the head with a baseball bat.
The leader of the gang got thirteen years but the person who raped the girl and beat the two men got something like six years. From this sort of case it is now my perception, rightly or wrongly, that property is considered more valuable than human life. In another case, a Judge attempting to justify the light sentence he gave to a rapist told the victim that her trauma was not so very terrible. On what did he base that piece of wisdom? If I had any kind of influence I would make judges accountable for their sentencing.
In my opinion, if there is to be any hope of a decent society in the future then we need to get back to basics. This starts in the home. To my way of thinking, motherhood is one of the most important jobs there is but it is chronically and systematically undervalued. For a start there is no training for this most important role nor is there any value placed on it by way of wages. It is my firm belief, and I know there will be plenty of people who will disagree with me but I think mothers should be paid if they choose to stay at home to look after their children and it should go hand in hand with some sort of training for the job. I have lost count of how many times I have heard mothers screaming at their children “Get here, NOW!” That is no way to speak to a child, what sort of role model is that? And as far as I can see things are getting progressively worse. At least I was taught how to feed and bathe my baby but my daughter was not even shown that much.
Today’s society relies on women being naturally maternal, which I think is an unreliable assumption as not every woman is a natural mother and even if she is then she is even more likely to want to do it properly but with insufficient training she is left to struggle on alone hoping that she has got it right. Is that good enough for the most important job a woman can do…that of rearing a vulnerable, dependent baby? If such a job was in industry would the employer leave things to chance in this way? I think not!
I know there will be a lot of people who will think it’s the woman’s choice to have babies so why should she get paid for it. They might argue that there are already enough young single mums living off benefits and that paying a wage will just increase the number. That may well be the case but at least if they got some sort of training to go with it there might be less incidents like the woman who had her own daughter kidnapped. Besides, I still think that despite the risk of increasing the number of single Mums who want to live off benefits there is still a drastic need to up the status of motherhood. We should get rid of the notion that motherhood is easily combined with running a home and going out to work. We seem to be quite happy for the government to pay, in some instances, childminders or nursery care providers but not a child’s natural mother. This is another example of where I think society has got things the wrong way round.
Many women would prefer to stay at home and look after their children at least until they reach school age but financially they cannot afford it. So they pay out half their wages on childcare. But it must be heartbreaking for some young Mums to have to leave their baby with a complete stranger or in a completely strange environment. On my daughter’s first day back at work the child minder had to call her back because her baby was not well. Imagine how she felt about that. And the dread she felt in the pit of her stomach when on the next day she had to go through the same process.
Furthermore, motherhood, it seems, now has to be squashed in to the tiniest corner of a woman’s life. For example, I saw a young Mum doing her shopping with a young baby wrapped up very carefully and well cushioned in the chair part of the trolley. She was feeding the baby its bottle as she did her shopping. Nothing wrong with that you might say, except the baby could not have been more than three weeks old. If the mother didn’t have time to feed such a young baby in the comfort of its home what chance would there be of her having enough time to give to the child as it is growing up?
Moreover, it is a common assumption that it is the woman who decides to have a child but if a woman is in a relationship it is more often a joint decision to have children yet it is the woman who is more affected because even when she is able to return to work her earning capacity will probably have fallen. Often she will only be able to do part time work and this has an effect on her pension when she eventually retires. Apart from that on a national level the fact is that society needs women to have babies they are the citizens and the work force of tomorrow so today’s young mothers are making a contribution to our future.
To my mind, the period between birth and starting school is so important for the Mother to bond with her child and for the child to be taught the ground rules of respect. Respect for parents, neighbours, teachers, the police and lastly property. Then respect should be further reinforced in schools, not by knocking seven bells out of the children, but nor should the teachers have their hands tied. They should be given back the status they once had. I think teachers have a thankless job and I wonder any of them spend a lifetime in their chosen career. It seems to me that nowadays a lot leave the profession because of the stress of the job.
Moving on to yet another one of my gripes, we come to Asbos and Tags. Asbos seem almost to be collected like trophies and the situation with Tags is even worse. There is an open prison quite near here and young offenders that work in the town wear tags. These offenders are so proud of the fact that they are tagged they roll up their trouser legs so that the public can see them and so it’s obvious they wear them as a badge of honour. Yet it was not so long ago that it was argued that it was against their human rights to make them wear a tabard that would make the public aware these youngsters were offenders
Next we come to prison itself with the prisoners getting time off for good behaviour. What! If a person is in prison nothing but good behaviour should be tolerated. There should be zero tolerance of anything else. To my mind once again it is the wrong way round it should not be time off for good behaviour it should be time added on for bad.
Now, on a slightly different tack I remember reading on the letters page in our local paper several letters criticising a woman who was raising funds for a charity she had set up to protect and nurse back to health injured hedgehogs. She was criticised for being more interested in animals than in humans. I was more than a little annoyed by this and so I wrote to the paper in response saying something to the effect that, whether or not one agreed with what she was doing, at least she was doing no harm.
I am of the opinion that the people who deserve to be criticised are those that show a lack of respect for our shared environment by discarding their litter on the streets. Criticism should be reserved also for those that by their drunken behaviour intimidate people and make our towns centres no go areas at night and, finally, it should be reserved for those people who offer violence for the slightest perceived provocation. If the letter writer was prepared to put pen to paper, given the state of our society, surely it should have been in response to a bigger issue than hedgehogs. Moreover, the writer was making the common but erroneous assumption that people who love animals cannot therefore love people!
To conclude I would just say I have given some of the reasons why I don’t read Newspapers any more, however, we are always being told that things are not as bad as we suspect; that our perception is wrong because the media concentrates on the bad things that happen. It seems to me, therefore, that if we are to have a more accurate perception then the media that feeds it needs to drastically change too. For this reason I think there is room for a new kind of paper that doesn’t give wrongdoers the oxygen of publicity but focuses instead only on good things and with the recent demise of The News of the World may I suggest the title for such a paper could be The Good News of the World!