For many, the weather of summer 2012 was another in a succession of disappointing Irish summers! At the beginning of the s3ason, there was great hope that this year might deliver what the last few had not – a little heat and some dry sunny weather. Unfortunately it was not to be and as our schools have now reopened their doors, life is slowly returning to an autumn “normality” and the holiday season is already becoming a distant memory. For most families, the focus is no firmly back on getting on with “the trivial round, the common task”, to quote the words of John Keble’s popular hymn.
One of the great distractions this summer was the Olympic Games, London 2012. Right from the opening ceremony, it was a marvellous and spectacular event which generated much excitement internationally – and even on these shores as our athletes did themselves and their country proud. As I write, the Paralympics are in full swing and they too are proving to be both marvellous and spectacular. In their own way, they inspire even more awe than the Olympics when one considers the obstacles most of the athletes have to overcome simply to participate. This perhaps captures more fully the Olympic ideal of “it is not the winning but the taking part which is important”. Far too often in today’s world the emphasis in life is placed on winning to the exclusion of all else. However, life should never be seen as a win/lose proposition – as that is fuelled by a selfish and self-centred worldview. On the other hand, with a practical application of our Christian beliefs, life can and should be a win/win proposition as we look out for the more vulnerable in our wider community in the love and respect of Christ.
Looking at our current News headlines, there would seem to be a great need to take this lesson to heart at an international level. The ongoing conflict in Syria is a most concerning, dangerous and volatile situation. It would appear that there is a singular lack of regards and respect for human life on both sides of the conflict. Furthermore, there is a reluctance to engage in any form of meaningful negotiations or agreed settlement – which ultimately will have to happen sooner or later if there is ever to be any lasting resolution to the crisis. Matters are further complicated by tribalism, sectarian rivalries within Islam and historic alliances in Syria coupled with the apparent impotence of the world community which cannot agree on how best to move things forward. Deterioration in the present situation could have implications for world peace and stability of the entire Middle East region. Let us pray that the voice of peacemakers may somehow be heard and heeded in this crisis. Let us further pray that it will not develop into another “Afghanistan” or “Iraq”, where the intervention of world powers only served to further complicate rather than resolve matters.
At a more local level, the recent announcement by the HSE that it is cutting back services in certain parts of the country to bring it back within budget is cause for concern. Of course it has to be recognised that in the current economic climate savings will have to be made and budgets will have to be met. However, cutting frontline services such as effecting bed closures and reducing the number of operations carried out in certain hospitals will have a pronounced negative impact on the most vulnerable in our society. Furthermore, the proposed cutbacks could have the added effect of making it extremely unlikely that our health services would be able to cope with an influenza epidemic or other such crises which the winter season occasionally brings.
With every blessing,
The Revd. John Tanner. Tel.: 01- 289 3154 / 086 302 1376