- The International Writers Magazine - April 06
Sat in Café Parisien in Portsmouth as April begins and my eyes
stray to a leaflet left on the counter. A Rough Guide to a Better
World and I was thinking that theres a few people in this
world who should probably read that.
Sometimes the newspapers fill you with dread. You cannot face another
item about suicide bombers and mass killings by Shias or Sunnis or insurgents
in Iraq. Certainly you dont want to hear any more moronic platitudes
from the mouth of George W Bush or mealy squirming from master criminal
Tony Blair. Are they building a better world? I think not. Israel has
just had an election and of course they have gone for Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert, who is not one to compromise. The division between Hamas
and Israel will only grow deeper until something really bad happens.
In Spain, we have a youth movement dedicated not to politics but to
mass nihilism and alcohol, where thousands get drunk to the state of
oblivion on weekends and weeknights. Their opposites in France are rebelling
in the streets for the right to permanent jobs in an impermanent world.
Neither group is really thinking about a better world. But then again
ETA has disarmed so not all is lost.
Nevertheless there could be a malaise affecting us all. Perhaps when
America fights an unpopular war the world catches a virus of discontent.
There are many parallels to the Vietnam War era happening right now.
Young Americans and British solders dying for nothing, to bring peace
to a country that certainly doesnt seem that interested in the
concept. Democracy has not brought the happiness those in Washington
thought it would.
So what can we do to make this a better world?
Rough Guide suggests that volunteering can make a difference.
Not just to the people you might help, but to yourself. You might
think about ethical savings, making sure that your bank doesnt
invest in companies that make weapons that will kill the people
you are helping for example. You could switch to fair trade coffee,
tea, chocolate and help those who produce the raw materials get
a fair price for their produce and labour. Elsewhere in this issue
to can find out about helping people to build homes in Costa Rica
with Habitat. There are schemes to help children in India or in
this issue Kenya. We can find ways to make a better world and make
outselves feel better too.
Guide reminds us that two billion people on this planet do not have
access to clean safe water or sanitation. A hundred million kids never
go to school. AIDS/HIV is destroying whole countries in Africa where
it creates orphans with one hand and kills the adults with skills necessary
to administrate and create the wealth with another.
You could give money to charities that try to something about that
see the article on Kenyan orphans in this issue of Hackwriters for example
but more importantly, you can give time or expertise. To make a better
world, we first need to want one and we need to know how to share it
and overcome the political and religious blockades to that end.
Direct action, whether overseas in Africa or Asia is one thing, but
also look closer, look at those people sleeping in doorways, kids who
dont have places to go at night, or getting into deeper trouble
in your neighbourhood. How do you halt that decline? Moan about it a
Neighbourhood watch is one thing, being proactive, getting involved,
making time to listen and finding solutions to problems near to home
is another. Kids say they have no place to go. Well work on that with
your local council, perhaps there are unused spaces and volunteers who
If we all do something, however little, it will make a difference and
instead of famine, war, pestilence and civil disturbance, you will read
success stories, about people learning how to conserve their environment
so that another generation can use it. You may have to forego a bauble
or two, deny yourself an extra pint of beer, or glass of wine, or even
one packet of cigarettes a month, but if that money went to a charity
that was helping others instead, the whole world would quickly become
a better place. You can do it. I can do it. We can make a difference
and it isnt hard.
April 5th: Since
I wrote this last week someone was nearly murdered outside my door at
1am Monday morning - and drunken kids went on the rampage and destroyed
car mirrors, smashed windows in cars in my street. Let it be recorded
that the cops were unavailable to 'attend' the incident and recommend
that one places plastic bags over the mirror remains for 'possible'
fingerprinting. So I can tell you it is sometimes hard to stay positive
about what we can do to make the world better at home - but it also
serves as a reminder that it has to be done - the alternative - as they
say - is too awful to contemplate.
back on-line. We shall be putting the May edition together this week,
we hope. Time willing.
© Sam North Editor April 2006
at Hacks are self-supporting and if you want to support us, buy Sam's
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Curse of the Nibelung - A Sherlock Holmes Mystery
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'Chocolate will never be the same again' - Sunday
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- The Rush of '72
By Sam North
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terrific piece of storytelling' Historical Novel Society Review
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